|Industry||Video game industry|
|Defunct||October 11, 2018|
|Key people||Pate Hawley (Former CEO)|
|Products||Graphic adventure games|
Many of the games that have been developed by Telltale Games follow an episodic system. The full game is split into several episodes which are released periodically through a certain timeframe, often up to a year after the initial release. Popular titles by Telltale include game adaptations of the CSI television show, films such as Wallace and Gromit and Back to the Future, well-known comics such as Sam & Max and The Walking Dead, and game licenses like Monkey Island.
As of October 11, 2018, the company has filed for assignment and laid off its employees. The video game, despite having been cancelled, was picked up by Image Comics with the original cast and development team coming back to finish the game. Imagine Comics will not continue the development of any of other Telltale video game. The company remains in assignment as of April 2019.
Telltale Games was founded by a group of former LucasArts employees who had been working on Sam & Max: Freelance Police, a sequel to the 1993 game Sam & Max Hit the Road, prior to its cancellation on March 3, 2004. In an early press release the vocal public response to said cancellation was cited as a main reason the company was founded. The Telltale Games team has a large collective experience working on LucasArts' famed classics.
On February 11, 2005, the company released their first game — Telltale Texas Hold'em, a poker card game simulator which was intended primarily to test their in-house game engine. This was followed by two games based on Jeff Smith's Bone comic book series. More episodes were planned, but later aborted. They developed CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder for Ubisoft, and although it was composed of several free-standing episodes, it was released exclusively at retail as a single package. The same is true for the follow ups, CSI: Hard Evidence, CSI: Deadly Intent, and CSI: Fatal Conspiracy.
After securing two rounds of angel investment from San Francisco Bay Area angels including members of angel group Keiretsu Forum, Telltale attempted to buy the rights to complete Sam & Max: Freelance Police from LucasArts, but when they were denied, they secured the rights to create new games from series creator Steve Purcell. Unlike their previous games, Sam & Max: Season One (published in collaboration with GameTap) was their first episodic series released on a tight monthly schedule—a landmark for the game industry. The series proved successful, and Telltale went on to produce two additional Sam & Max seasons. Since then, they have continued to produce series based on popular licenses released in monthly episodes. These have been largely comedic, including games based on Wallace & Gromit and Homestar Runner. Tales of Monkey Island, based on the popular LucasArts series, marks their most successful series to date, owing in part to the history many of its developers had with LucasArts adventure games. Pilot Program
To supplement their normal episodic games, Telltale created a Pilot Program in early 2010 to explore one-off games that would explore other gameplay and storytelling approaches that could eventually be incorporated into their episodic games. The first game, Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent, a puzzle-solving game in collaboration with Graham Annable, was released in the middle of June 2010, while Poker Night at the Inventory, a crossover poker game featuring characters from Sam and Max, Homestar Runner, Valve's Team Fortress 2, and the webcomic Penny Arcade, was released late in 2010. Growth of company and acquisition of popular franchises
In June 2010, Telltale announced that they had secured licenses with NBC Universal to develop two episodic series based on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. Further series based on licensed properties were announced in February 2011, including series based on the comic book series The Walking Dead and Fables in association with Warner Bros. Entertainment, and a series based on the King's Quest adventure games by Sierra. In April 2011, Telltale announced another licensed episodic series, based on Law & Order: Los Angeles.
By 2010, Telltale has proven itself successful, with yearly revenues of $10 million, 90% greater than the previous year. Part of this is attributed to Back to the Future: The Game, which Steve Allison, the senior vice president of marketing, called their "most successful franchise to date". Allison states that for most of their games, they only need to sell 100,000 copies to break even, but many of their recent releases have seen twice that number or more; Allison anticipates that The Walking Dead series could be a $20 to $30 million franchise. Telltale expects with the additional licensed franchises, the studio and its revenues will continue to grow at a similar pace, expanding from their 90 employees to 140. By the end of 2013, Teltale began operating on a 118 million operating capacity per year.
In 2012, Telltale had its biggest success yet with The Walking Dead, which sold one million copies in 20 days, and topped the sales charts on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam. Due to the success of the first game, Telltale announced a sequel in July 2012.
In 2015, Telltale announced that it had partnered with Mojang to create a "Minecraft: Story Mode" in an episodic series. The first episode is due October 12th.
In June 2018, co-founder Kevin Bruner filed a lawsuit against his former company, alleging that he was removed from the CEO position by the board of directors after the company's top executives failed to report to him accurate financial disclosures and company expenditures. His lawsuit sought to recover money he believed had been taken from him by malpractice. Telltale formally denied these allegations, accusing Bruner of trying to cause damages to a shrinking brand in order to end it.
In September 2018, it was reported that Telltale Games had filed for bankruptcy protections under U.S. charter laws. Other reports of massive company layoffs were confirmed by a former senior game designer, Emily Buck, after she was terminated from the department she once ran. Telltale's company size was reduced from its 2017 high of close to four-hundred staffers down to around twenty-five people, all of whom retained to finish the final season of "The Walking Dead", though that report was quickly disputed to suggest that they were only being retained to complete their other obligations for a different game.
On October 4, 2018, narrative designer Rachel Noel stated that her team within the skeleton crew were also laid off, with "not many" people still working for the company, bringing the total number of staffers down to under twenty-five. On the impending closure, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman lamented the industry's loss of a recognizably impactful brand. Furthermore, stated his intentions to search for a way to give a proper end to the story of the final season, whether it be in video game form or otherwise. He noted that he did not want to lose both "Rick and Clementine in one month" (referencing the departure of Rick Grimes from AMC's television series. It was later announced that the final two episodes of the video game would be carried by Kirkman's company.
Telltale officially closed its doors on October 11, 2018, filing for assignment and terminating its final contracts in short order. Since the announcement of majority studio closure, many former employees went on record to denounce Telltale Games's executives for their practices of overworking staff to meet nearly impossible deadlines. On the heels of these allegations, Emily Buck would propose a labor union for all video game developers so that they could all fare better regardless of their employer. Despite public support and a quick response from other game developers to hire those laid off, no real steps were taken to begin such a union.
Several former Telltale employees sought to continue their work from their days working for Telltale, including launching a few independent game publishing companies. Notably, four former writers and developers (including Pierre Shorette and Nick Herman) founded Adhoc Studios to begin developing live-action video games.
Following negations with Sherwood Partners starting in February 2019, LCG Entertainment acquired several key Telltale assets and on August 28, 2019, announced that it was re-launching the company by assuming "Telltale Games" as its trade name, operating out of Malibu, California, with a satellite studio in Corte Madera, California. Under the leadership of founders Jamie Ottilie (chief executive officer) and Brian Waddle (chief revenue officer), the new Telltale is set to re-release the old Telltale's back-catalog, as well as work on new games based on Telltale-affiliated properties. While licenses for games and planned games like The Walking Dead and Stranger Things have since reverted to their original owners, the new Telltale retains licenses for The Wolf Among Us and Batman, as well as the intellectual property for Puzzle Agent. The new Telltale is expected to start small for the first six months to regain distribution channels, and the company has offered former staff of the old Telltale freelance roles within the company with the potential for full-time positions at a later point in time. Partners in the new Telltale include publisher Athlon Games, which will handle distribution, and financial contributors Chris Kingsley, Lyle Hall and Tobias Sjögren. None of the newly involved parties had previously worked with the old Telltale.
Former employees of the original Telltale were skeptical of LCG's approach to the relaunch of Telltale, considering that offering only freelance work while in San Francisco, which has one of the highest costs-of-living in the country, is risky. Others have urged LCG to pay off the existing Telltale debt to its former employees, while others have called for a boycott of any game from the new Telltale.
|Telltale Texas Hold'em||02005-02-11February 11, 2005||1 (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows|
|Bone: Out from Boneville||02005-09-15September 15, 2005||1 (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows|
|CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder||02006-03-21March 21, 2006||5 episodes (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2|
|Bone: The Great Cow Race||02006-04-12April 12, 2006||1 (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows|
|Sam & Max Save the World||02006-10-17October 17, 2006 - April 26, 2007||6 episodes (monthly)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, Wii|
|CSI: Hard Evidence||02007-09-25September 25, 2007||5 episodes (Standalone title)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Wii, Xbox 360|
|Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space||02007-11-08November 8, 2007 - April 10, 2008||5 episodes (monthly)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, Wii, Mac OS X, PlayStation Network, iOS|
|Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People||02008-08-11August 11, 2008 - December 15, 2008||5 episodes (monthly)||WiiWare, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Network, Mac OS X|
|Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures||02009-03-24March 24, 2009 - July 30, 2009||4 episodes (monthly)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS (Episode 2 only)|
|Tales of Monkey Island||02009-07-07July 7, 2009 - December 8, 2009||5 episodes (monthly)||Microsoft Windows, WiiWare, Mac OS X, PlayStation Network, iOS|
|CSI: Deadly Intent||02009-10-20October 20, 2009||5 episodes (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Wii|
|Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse||02010-04-15April 15, 2010 - August 30, 2010||5 episodes (monthly)||iOS (Episode 1 only), Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, PlayStation Network|
|Hector: Badge of Carnage||02010-06-03June 3, 2010 - September 22, 2011||3 episodes||iOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X|
|Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent||02010-06-30June 30, 2010||1 (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, PlayStation Network|
|CSI: Fatal Conspiracy||02010-10-26October 26, 2010||5 episodes (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii|
|Poker Night at the Inventory||02010-11-22November 22, 2010||1 (Standalone title)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows|
|Back to the Future: The Game||02010-12-22December 22, 2010 - June 23, 2011||5 episodes (monthly)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, iOS, Wii|
|Puzzle Agent 2||02011-06-30June 30, 2011||1 (Standalone title)||iOS, Mac, Microsoft Windows|
|Jurassic Park: The Game||02011-11-15November 15, 2011
November 15, 2011 - May 24, 2012
|4 episodes (Standalone title)|
4 episodes (bi-monthly) (iPad)
|Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, iOS, PlayStation Network, Xbox 360|
|Law & Order: Legacies||02011-12-22December 22, 2011 - March 29, 2012||7 episodes (bi-weekly)||iOS, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows|
|The Walking Dead||02012-04-24April 24, 2012 - November 20, 2012||5 episodes (bi-monthly)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Android, Ouya|
|April 24, 2013||1 (Standalone title)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation Network|
|The Wolf Among Us||October 11, 2013 - July 8, 2014||5 episodes (bi-monthly)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
|The Walking Dead Season Two||December 17, 2013 - August 26, 2014||5 episodes (bi-monthly)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android, PlayStation Vita|
|Tales from the Borderlands||November 25, 2014—October 20, 2015||5 episodes (quarterly)||Android, iOS, Win, OS X, PS3, PS4, X360, XONE|
|Game of Thrones||December 2, 2014 - November 17, 2015||6 episodes (bi-monthly)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, Playstation 3, Xbox 360|
|Minecraft: Story Mode||October 13, 2015 - March 29, 2016|
June 7, 2016 - September 13, 2016 (Adventure Pass)
|5 episodes (monthly)|
3 episodes (downloadable content)
|Android, iOS, Win, OS X, PS3, PS4, Wii U, NS, X360, XONE|
|The Walking Dead: Michonne||February 23, 2016 - April 26, 2016||3 episodes (monthly)||Android, iOS, Win, OS X, PS3, PS4, X360, XONE|
|Batman: The Telltale Series||August 2, 2016 - December 13, 2016||5 episodes (monthly)||Android, iOS, Win, PS3, PS4, X360, XONE|
|The Walking Dead: A New Frontier||December 20, 2016 - May 30, 2017||5 episodes (monthly)||Android, iOS, Win, PS4, XONE, NS|
|Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series||April 18, 2017 - November 7, 2017||5 episodes (bi-monthly)||Android, iOS, Win, OS X, PS4, XONE|
|Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two||July 11, 2017—December 19, 2017||5 episodes (monthly)||Android, iOS, Win, Mac, PS4, X360, XONE|
|Batman: The Enemy Within||August 8, 2017—March 27, 2018||5 episodes (bi-monthly)||Android, iOS, Win, PS4, XONE, NS|
|The Walking Dead: The Final Season||August 14, 2018—March 26, 2019||4 episodes||Android, iOS, Win, PS4, XONE, NS|
|The Wolf Among Us: Season Two||Cancelled||N/A||Android, iOS, Win, PS4, XONE|
|Game of Thrones: Season Two||Cancelled||N/A||Android, iOS, Win, PS4, XONE|
|Untitled Stranger Things game||Cancelled||N/A||N/A|
|7 Days to Die||The Fun Pimps||June 28, 2016||1 (Standalone title)||PS4, XONE|
|Hector: Badge of Carnage||Straandlooper||June 2, 2010 - September 22, 2011||3 episodes (monthly)||iOS, Win, OS X|
|Night School Studio||August 16, 2016||1 (Standalone title)||iOS, Android|
|The Jackbox Party Pack||Jackbox Games||November 3, 2015||1 (Standalone title)||PS3, PS4, X360, XONE|