Telltale Games is being revived

Telltale’s Batman adventure is part of the new deal.
Telltale Games

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.

Comments

This is great news :>

This is only good news if you don’t give a shit about the people who make games.

It’s definitely a bad faith way of restarting a business.

Did you read the article…Like….At all?

I did!

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.

oh fantastic, i’m so glad these people who got the rug utterly yanked out from under them will have a chance at positions with less benefits

This looks like TTG is going to go from a poorly managed bankruptcy to a poorly managed vanity project. Gross.

That’s the glass half empty side of looking at it. The glass half full side of looking at it that is seemingly bought by people with passion for Telltale’s style of game making and back catalogue who are careful how they spend their money.

It can go either way, we’ll probably know more in about a year.

Hiring freelancers isn’t being careful how you spend money, it’s endemic of the entire industry, it’s being cheap and exploiting labor. If you can’t pay people properly, people with years of experience who created Telltale’s style of game making, then you can’t ethically run a company.

Most work in the entertainment industry is done on a contract basis. There’s no grantee that when a project is done there will be work for everyone.

That is a bad thing.

yeah except a lot of the entertainment business has unions

This is true.

Yeah how the hell is this supposed to be justification? "Sucks for a lot of other people, so these guys can deal with the shit too"?

Except it doesn’t even suck as bad for others, they have unions, as another commenter pointed out.

You’re completely ignoring the part about full-time positions possible in the future.

The original Telltale Games failed because its management pissed away the company finances with a series of terrible decisions.

Why is it suddenly a bad thing when the new Telltale Games wants to start small and ramp things up as they become more manageable?

Start small, that’s fine.

Offer people the positions they deserve. This is not the corner where you can cut costs.

TTG’s team got completely screwed. No warning, their lives up-heaved. They don’t deserve something as transient and unreliable as being offered freelance gigs. They made TTG what it was.

I’m going to bow out here. It’s obvious you have some sort of insider access into what Ottilie and Waddle are thinking that you’re not sharing.

That or you just think you do.

you’re putting all your stock in the possibility of full-time positions some time in the future

it’s pretty easy to see what’s going on here, no mind reading required

This is not the corner where you can cut costs.

This IS where companies have always cut corners. That’s the mode of production we live in, specially when it comes to making art under capitalism.

Freelance is just slightly better than payment for production. Even though both are better than unemployment, neither advances the fight for better conditions of work. We need to remind ourselves that unemployment is a invention of capitalism, it’s unecessary, after all.

The standard is that even full time jobs, receiving salaries, is exploitative. What we got to do is keep pushing towards an equitable sharing of revenue (since accounting can manipulate profits, movie studios, for example, do it all the time to avoid sharing box office profits).

We need to remind ourselves that unemployment is a invention of capitalism, it’s unecessary, after all.

What an utterly bizarre, nonsensical idea.

What are you talking about? Have you ever seen an unemployed slave or peasant? They always got full time jobs, those lucky bastards.

Polygon is full of Iphone communists after all lol.
What an absurd statement the guy made hahaha

guaranteed jobs is suuuuuper weird and quirky!

capitalism breaks peoples’ brains, man

I don’t disagree but lets keep the scope of this situation in context and admit that telling a ton of industry veterans who made the TTG brand what it is that they can come back for freelance with no benefits and no guarantee of future work is pretty bad. We won’t dismantle capitalism around TTG, lets just get people better conditions before utopic ones.

i think starting with full-time work rather than freelance work is a good direction to go if equity is your goal. all employment under capitalism is exploitative, yes, but some of it is more exploitative than others, and that’s freelancing

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