Telltale Incorporated, a California-based gaming company operating as Telltale Games, announced it is laying off 90 people, or 25% of its total workforce. The developer also announced that it will be using “more proven technologies” to develop future games. The video game company has been using its own internal game engine and graphics, but is looking to explore other tools, including the Unreal and Unity engines.
With the Telltale Games layoffs, 2017 continues to be a difficult year for the gaming industry, with a number of big studios reporting large layoffs, including Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ:GLUU); Perfect World Entertainment, a subsidiary of Perfect World Co., Ltd. (ADR) (NASDAQ:PWRD); and Harmonix.
Developer Lays Off 25% of Workforce as Part of Restructuring
After a busy 2017, Telltale Games, the well-known episodic game developer, is taking a step back. In 2017, Telltale released second seasons of Minecraft: Story Mode (in association with Minecraft developer Mojang, owned by Microsoft Corporation [NASDAQ:MSFT]) and Batman: The Telltale Series. It also released the third season of its series based on The Walking Dead and a game based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
Those heady days are over for now. The game developer announced a major restructuring plan that includes laying off 25% of its workforce. In a statement, Telltale said the decision to jettison 90 employees will make the company, “more competitive as a developer and publisher of groundbreaking story-driven gaming experiences with an emphasis on high quality in the years ahead.”
“Our industry has shifted in tremendous ways over the past few years,” said CEO Pete Hawley in a statement. “The realities of the environment we face moving forward demand we evolve, as well, reorienting our organization with a focus on delivering fewer, better games with a smaller team.”
Fans of Telltale games need not worry, as the restructuring efforts are, “not expected to impact the release of any of the company’s previously announced projects.” But the company did note that in the future, it will concentrate on launching fewer games.
Telltale Games’ Growing Concerns with Internal Game Engines, Looks to Start Using Unreal and Unity Engines
In addition to the 90 layoffs, Telltale said it will also be moving its internal development, “over to more proven technologies that will fast-track innovation in its core products” to develop its games.
Up to this point, the San Rafael-based developer has been using its own internal game engine and graphics. However, the company has been on the receiving end of criticism for its technical performance for years and has fallen behind other more established engines like Unreal and Unity.
As one blog posted noted, “the technology driving Telltale’s games is awful. I’m not talking about the bugs, glitches, or save issues—those are a problem, too—but the way they’re presented.”
“Everything—mouths, arms, bodies, eyebrows—mechanically flap around as if on an assembly line. When characters walk into a scene, they appear to be floating on air. It feels like I’m watching a scene with characters from Chuck E. Cheese, except it’s a video game from 2017…”
Not the highest praise.
Previous 2017 Gaming Industry Layoffs
It’s been a tough year for the entertainment industry in general, with fewer people going to the movies and weaker gaming sales, with a number of well-known studios announcing large layoffs.
Most recently, China-based Perfect World Entertainment announced it shuttered its Runic Games studio in Seattle and laid off staff at Motiga Games. CCP Games is putting a halt to its virtual reality-based game development, choosing instead to focus on PC and mobile games. This has resulted in the Reykjavik, Iceland-based gaming company closing down a facility in Atlanta, Georgia.
In October, Disruptor Beam, Inc. announced layoffs. The studio behind Star Trek Timelines and Game of War Ascent said it is “right-sizing.” This could result in additional layoffs. Also in October, Harmonix announced another round of layoffs to reduce overhead. The Boston-based company developed Rock Band and DropMix.
Meanwhile, Glu Mobile Inc. announced in August a major restructuring plan that resulted in 46 job losses. The company said its restructuring is “part of its efforts to streamline its operating expense structure in alignment with its business strategy.”
“Telltale Games lays off 25 percent of workforce,” Polygon, November 7, 2017.
“Telltale Games cuts 25 percent of its employees in major restructuring,” Android Authority, November 7, 2017.
“Telltale’s Ancient Technology Is Now Badly Hurting Their Games,” Vice, April 21 2017.
“Perfect World Has Shut Down Gigantic Developer Motiga,” Destructoid, November 2, 2017.
“Disruptor Beam lays off staff as part of ‘re-focusing’ effort,” Gamasutra, October 10, 2017.
“Harmonix lays off 14 in bid to ‘reduce overhead,’” Gamasutra, October 19, 2017.
“Form 8-K,” U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, August 21, 2017.”