Telltale Games, which shut down last year, is being revived after its assets were purchased by a company called LCG Entertainment. The new company will sell some of Telltale’s back catalog and will work on new games based on a few Telltale-associated properties, as well as new licenses.
The new Telltale is headed up by Jamie Ottilie and Brian Waddle. Ottilie said that some workers from the original Telltale Games will be offered freelance roles, with full-time positions possible in the future.
Ottilie has spent much of his career in mobile games, most recently as founder and CEO of Galaxy Pest Control, which is best known for licensed games based on Duck Dynasty and Power Rangers. Waddle’s previous experience includes running sales and marketing for the Havok game engine. Neither worked at Telltale Games prior to its shuttering in 2018.
In an interview with Polygon, Ottilie confirmed that the new business has back-catalog rights to licensed properties The Wolf Among Us and Batman as well as full rights to original Telltale games such as Puzzle Agent. “There are some other expired licenses that we’re looking at,” he said.
Ottilie said it’s possible the new Telltale will pick up some stories where they left off. “We’re still evaluating, but we definitely want to continue some of the stories,” he said. But it looks like The Walking Dead won’t be coming back. That license is now owned by Skybound, which has its own plans for game releases.
The status of previous Telltale licenses such as Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Minecraft has not been announced. When asked about Telltale’s previous plans to release a game based on Stranger Things, he said that the rights had reverted back to Netflix.
Ottilie said that he bought the rights to Telltale because he believes in the future of adventure games.
“This is a viable business that went away due to market conditions and some scale choices [Telltale’s previous management] made,” he said. “I like games that tell stories and I think our industry should have a company that specializes in narrative-driven games.”
Telltale’s rights were purchased from a company that had been assigned by creditors of the old company. According to Ottilie, negotiations began six months ago. “It was incredibly complex,” he said. The purchase price has not been announced.
Publisher Athlon Games is a partner in the deal, and will handle storefront operations and distribution. Financial backers include various game industry figures, including Chris Kingsley (Rebellion), Lyle Hall (Heavy Iron Studios), and Tobias Sjögren (formerly of Starbreeze).
The revived Telltale Games will be based in Malibu, California, about 400 miles from the original studio’s headquarters in San Rafael. “We’re going to stay small over the next six months and we will work for more of a distributed development pipeline than Telltale was known for,” Ottilie said. “We’ll focus on tools, technology and design in-house. Some things like animation and motion capture will be done with the right partnerships externally.”
Ottilie explained that the company is looking at evolving Telltale’s episodic model. “We will probably keep the concept of episodes but with different pacing. This is a different world, from a media consumption standpoint. We need to look at how people like to entertain themselves. I like the idea of binge watching.”
On Telltale’s legacy and its managerial errors, he said: “They brought me some of my favorite stories to play and they did an amazing job building a company. It’s unfortunate the way that it ended. Certainly we’re working very hard not to make similar mistakes.”
Formed in 2004, Telltale was best known for its innovative use of licensed, character-based narrative-adventure games, often released as episodes. However, after some success with series such as The Walking Dead, the company overreached, taking on too many projects that were poorly managed. In September last year, more than 250 people were laid off in notorious circumstances.
A class-action lawsuit against the original company’s executives is currently ongoing. This action does not affect the new company. Executives and founders from the original company are not part of the relaunch, although Polygon understands that some former managers have been consulted in an unofficial capacity.
You can read an in-depth report on the fall of Telltale over at The Verge.