The future of Telltale

Tilly Williams explores the revival of Telltale games, and anticipates a change in their design philosophy

Tilly Williams
28th April 2020
Image Credit: IGDB
The Wolf Among Us part 2 has recently been announced as Telltale games has finally been revived, original voice actors and developers will be working on the project. This has got many fans of the original series excited since the long wait is almost over.

The new Telltale, sadly no longer has the rights to old materials such as Guardians of the Galaxy, The Walking Dead and Minecraft. But luckily for Batman, they still have licenses to the WB materials.

Way back in 21 September 2018, the well known game company with popular games such as The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us announced publicly that they would be shutting down their studios keeping on only a skeleton staff of 25 members to finish off Minecraft Story Mode which appeared to gradually decrease as the months went by. As this closure happened during the release of the final season of The Walking Dead, fans were confused as to whether they would ever find out the end of Clementines story, but fortunately an outside investor managed to fund the completion of the last two episodes.

Telltale's closure laid off around 225 employees, with many not getting severance pay or any notice

This closure also lead to mass lay offs within the company, of around 225 employees, with many not getting severance pay or any notice, including a former employee filling a class-action law suit against them. Reports of toxic management and lack of paid overtime for over-worked employees came out left right an center, so with this in mind, what can we expect from the new revival of the studio?

A lot of where Telltale originally went wrong in many peoples opinions is by constantly releasing back to back games based off of hugely successful franchises but without a lot of thought into the games outside of marketability, as if they went from creating an original and enticing story based game told in a unique format which people got incredibly invested in, to cranking out game after game assuming people will buy them if they recognize the characters from popular franchises. They released many poorly reviewed games such as Batman: Telltale, Game of Thrones and Guardians of the Galaxy and quickly people keyed in onto the disappointing and often rushed nature of the games interest for the company died down.

The look of the games also struggled to develop as the years progressed, while looking somewhat stylistic in 2011, the graphics now seemed dated, and the fast paced nature of the studios development, constantly trying to produce titles while they're still relevant in the public eye, meant games would suffer from characters disappearing out of frame and somewhat comical graphic bugs.

Once people got to the end of Telltale games, there was no reason to replay them, the outcome was always the same

The games also offered an illusion of choice, as the majority of games ended in the same way no matter what choices were made, which once players caught onto this, turned to other games which managed to play with this concept of choices within a game much better. Especially horror games such as Until Dawn where people were urged to replay the game again until they saved or killed certain characters, as well as the game play elements still being entertaining despite relying mainly on quick time events. Once people got to the ending of Telltale games, there was no reason to replay as often the choices never amounted to much outside of each episode, since the outcome was always the same.

This became a particular problem with YouTube gaming videos showing the endings, so people had no reason to play these games for themselves. Another game which recently came out was Detroit: Become Human which had such innovative game-play with a large variety of different endings with 3 stories all interconnecting and often choices being reliant on the players exploration of the world around them rather than only being text based, as well as incredibly advanced graphics, much better than anything out of a Telltale game, Telltale will have to step up to a highly acclaimed market in it's return.

I think Telltale need to work on greater variety of endings to keep players hooked

So for the new Telltale I'd hope that the company address the old issues their games had and try to learn from current games out in the market of the same genre, hopefully with the inclusion of further interactivity as well as an update on the graphics. I think they've shown in the past they can formulate a good and interesting story which keeps players hooked, but I think they need to work on this further to create more variant endings which players will want to replay to get different outcomes and play for themselves as they have the problem of seeming more like a movie than a video game, and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch have already done that.

Hopefully Telltale has learnt from it's mistakes and we can all look forward and enjoy the new release of The Wolf Among Us part 2!

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