Telltale Games will not be finishing The Walking Dead: The Final Season as originally thought.
On September 21st, Telltale games surprised everyone (including their employees) by announcing that they’d be closing up shop. Despite award-winning games that continually reviewed well with a core audience of dedicated Telltale fans, it apparently just didn’t translate into dollars and cents.
Worse still, now it appears that previous reports that Telltale would at least be able to finish their flagship The Walking Dead series are actually incorrect.
According to a statement on Reddit from lead Season 4 designer Michael Kirkbride, the third and fourth episodes of The Walking Dead: The Final Season will not be completed as planned.
Previously, purported insiders revealed that a skeleton crew of 25 employees would finish Telltales remaining contracts, including The Walking Dead. This is evidently not the case with Kirkbride explaining that "episode 3 is almost done but nowhere shippable,” and that the “episode 4 script is done but we weren't set to put artists onto it until the next week or so."
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That next week will never come as Telltale closes its doors for good.
Worst of all, while Episode 2 was completed just before the closure announcement, it apparently features a cliffhanger ending that might now never be resolved. Nondisclosure agreements can still last after the company has closed up shop, meaning the true ending of the series may never be revealed.
Or at least, not for a very long time.
In addition to The Walking Dead being left unfinished, Telltale’s closure also leaves The Wolf Among Us: Season Two as well as Game of Thrones: Season Two in the lurch. There’s also the barely begun Stranger Things game that also will be without Telltale’s support, although Netflix has announced they will continue the project on their own--hopefully with a few of Telltales former employees to help them.
Telltale’s sudden closure has also sparked a movement among game developer employees to unionize to fight back against a culture that often feels exploitative. If it’s not a constant state of “crunch time”, then it’s sudden closures without any severance that can leave an employee in a terrible state both physically and mentally.
Let’s hope that Telltale is the last time that a developer treats its employees--and its fans--in such an abysmal way.