by 👩💻 Alice Monroe
Telltale Games, a leading name in the development and publication of narrative videogames for consoles and PCs, shocked fans everywhere this past week when it emerged that the studio would be shutting down for good, supposedly leaving a raft of promised games to disappear forever. Games such as Stranger Things and the potential for more Minecraft: Story Mode remain up in the air – though the latter is thought to be set to be completed – while the hugely popular The Walking Dead, in its final ‘season’, is thought to be getting drafted around to various studios in an attempt to appease fans.
However, at this moment in time, it’s not the fans who are in need of appeasing. Telltale have been criticized for allegedly prioritizing Walking Dead and its completion over the rights of their staff, according to various sources. Its effective studio closure, which resulted in 90% of its workforce laid off without severance pay, has been widely debated on social media, with a number of big names in the industry demanding that the studio do right by its now former staff.
▶ Former Telltale Employees Reveal Toxic Working Conditions Following Closure News, Feeling Abandoned
It’s being reported that the studio now faces a class action lawsuit as a result of the mass layoffs, with a complaint filed in San Francisco last week. Vernie Roberts, complaining on behalf of himself and his fellow laid-off team, advised that Telltale acted ‘without cause’ in their removal of staff, and that they did not act within the guidelines of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN, a federal law that protects workers’ rights. Roberts’ concerns revolve around the fact that Telltale – a business overseeing at least 100 full-time staff – would be required to advise employees of layoffs or closures at least 60 days in advance of doing so. The Act states that a ‘mass layoff’ would be that of at least 50 employees removed within a 30 day period. With Roberts claiming that Telltale has laid off around 275 people without severance – and that health benefits are to expire by the end of September – a trial by jury is being requested.
It’s also being reported that digital storefronts are no longer selling the final season of The Walking Dead, reportedly as a result of Telltale asking for sales to be paused. This continues to be a very public finale for the studio – and one which many are concerned has occurred at the expense of its hard-working staff.