After Telltale laid off roughly 90% of its staff on September 21, the studio said the remaining 25 employees would proceed with finishing work on Minecraft: Story Mode, an interactive show for Netflix. Today, a narrative designer who was one of those remaining employees stated on social media that she and other members of that “skeleton crew” have now been laid off as well.
“Remember how there was going to be a skeleton crew staying on for a while and I was part of it?” Rachel Noel wrote on Twitter. “Nah, jk, we all just got laid off, too.” Noel clarified her language in later tweets, writing that not everyone at Telltale had been laid off today, and noting that she had not been a part of the Walking Dead team. She also said that she did not receive any severance, as was the case for the over 200 people laid off last month.
Reached for comment, Telltale CEO Pete Hawley said via email that an official statement on the cuts would be coming on Friday or as late as Monday, and that Telltale was continuing to work to “do a deal on [The Walking Dead].” In a previous Kotaku report, two sources had said that Telltale is working to put together a deal that would see an outside company enlist laid-off Telltale developers to complete the last two episodes of the game.
In a Q&A panel at New York Comic-Con today, Robert Kirkman, the writer and co-creator of The Walking Dead comics on which Telltale’s adaptation is based, told fans of the games to “stay tuned.”
“Everyone involved is trying to make sure Clementine’s story is told,” he said. “I’m not concerned at the moment with telling that story in the comics.”
When the first round of mass layoffs was announced in what the studio called a “majority studio closure,” it was unclear if Telltale would be completely shutting down and, if so, how long the remaining skeleton crew would be kept on at the company. At the time, Hawley wrote on Twitter that the studio wasn’t shutting down.
“As odd as that may sound, 25 of us will continue, foreseeable,” he wrote. “I’ll make further comment in the coming weeks.” After today’s events, it’s not clear how many of those 25 remain.
According to a report by Variety, the studio’s sudden collapse was the result of potential partners AMC and Smilegate pulling out of deals at the last minute. Early sales of the first episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season, which released in August, were also apparently weak, leaving the studio in a precarious position. A class action lawsuit filed by one employee alleges that the company violated federal and California law when it terminated so many of its employees without notice.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” Rachel Noel wrote, paraphrasing Blade Runner. “80-hour crunch weeks. Mismanagement of some of the industry’s top talent. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”