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Telltale cuts jobs at US studio and newly acquired Flavourworks

Telltale Games released The Expanse: A Telltale Series’ fifth episode in late September

The Wolf Among Us - Bigby Wolf fighting a horned enemy Image: Telltale Games
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The Wolf Among Us 2 developer Telltale Games confirmed layoffs at the company “due to market conditions,” but said all its in-development projects are still in the works.

“Due to current market conditions, we regrettably had to let some of our Telltale team go recently,” a Telltale Games representative said in an emailed statement to Polygon. “We did not take this action lightly, and our commitment to storytelling and finding new ways to do so remains the same. We are grateful to everyone for their dedication along this journey, and we are working to support everyone impacted. All projects currently in development are still in production, and we have no further updates at this time.’

A company representative declined to share the scope of the layoffs after former cinematic artist Jonah Huang, who worked at both iterations of Telltale Games (before the 2018 layoffs, and when the studio was revived in 2019), posted to social media that “most” of the team was laid off in early September. One source said the internal Telltale Games development team was under 10 people; a Telltale Games representative said under 10 people were laid off across Telltale departments.

The layoffs extend into Telltale Games’ newly acquired Flavourworks, which was brought under the Telltale Games umbrella in August. Flavourworks is a London-based interactive video company that uses its TouchVideo technology to create full-motion video games, like Erica, a thriller that was released in 2019. Both Telltale Games and Flavourworks are at least partially funded by Hiro Capital, which posits itself as a games and metaverse funder.

Three sources told Polygon that Flavourworks had roughly 12 people employed at the time of the acquisition, most of whom were given redundancy letters just weeks after the announcement — notices required by U.K. law to let workers know their jobs are at risk. At that time, Flavourworks leadership told employees that the company only had cash to fund three more months of work, but that they were looking for additional, new funding. A handful of workers were laid off in the weeks that followed, and the layoffs will continue into December, the people said, if new funding isn’t secured. A Telltale Games representative declined to comment on Flavourworks.

The Flavourworks team was reportedly siloed off from Telltale Games. Sources told Polygon that the Flavourworks team was never given the chance to integrate into the company’s workflow, which gave workers reason to believe something was up — despite the initial excitement to have been acquired by such a notable studio as Telltale Games. The speed of the situation left workers confused: How are we even in this position, so soon after an acquisition?

The Expanse: A Telltale Series, developed in collaboration with Deck Nine, is Telltale Games’ first release since the studio’s devastating implosion in 2018. At that time, Telltale Games laid off the majority of its staff, keeping just a fraction of its 250 staff onboard to finish up ongoing obligations. Telltale Games, as a brand, was infamously spun up again in 2019 after its assets were bought up by LCG Entertainment. The new company remained much smaller, but it brought on several people who had previously worked at the old studio.

Alongside The Expanse, the new incarnation of Telltale Games is expected to release a follow-up to the five-episode The Wolf Among Us, a 2013 game based on Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book. The Wolf Among Us 2 was originally announced in 2020 for a 2023 release, but it was delayed out of the year in March. This project is presumably still in the works, judging by Telltale Games’ statement that all ongoing projects are still in development. AdHoc Studio is signed on to assist with The Wolf Among Us 2, while Deck Nine assisted with The Expanse: A Telltale Series.

Update: This story has been updated to include further comment from Telltale Games.

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