The industry was shocked late last year when Telltale Games was shuttered, owing to poor management and overreaching ambitions after what seemed like a very healthy and successful few years for the company. Clearly, things internally had been worse than they appeared on the outside, and after the horrible way the company’s closure was handled, they were even sued via a class action lawsuit by former employees.
However, it seems like fans of the studio and its games might have something to look forward to. As reported by Polygon, Telltale’s assets have been acquired by a company called LCG Entertainment, and is now in line for a revival, with the new Telltale being headed up by the duo of Jamie Ottilie and Brian Waddle. The new studio will be located in Malibu, California. Reportedly, a few former Telltale employees are being offered freelance roles, while some might join full-time in the future.
Ottilie has experience in the gaming industry, but has mostly stuck to mobile games. Most recently, he founded and was the CEO of Galaxy Pest Control, who’ve worked on licensed titles, such as Power Rangers games. Meanwhile, Waddle has previously been involved with sales and marketing for the widely used Havok physics middleware. Publisher Athlon Games is also a confirmed partner in the deal, with several other industry figures also being involved as financial backers, such as Tobias Sjögren (who was formerly at Starbreeze), Chris Kingsley (of Sniper Elite developers Rebellion), and Lyle Hall (of Heavy Iron Studios).
To be clear, the purchase of assets doesn’t mean that Telltale is back alive again- that company was shuttered, and its assets liquidated. Nothing changes that- but with all of those assets now having been picked up, the Telltale brand can resume activity and continue to make use of the licenses and games it previously had the right to.
And what exactly might those games be? The elephant in the room is, of course, The Walking Dead, but that won’t be returning to Telltale any time soon. The Walking Dead was in the middle of its final season when Telltale was closed, following which its was picked up (and later finished) by Skybound Games, who still hold the rights to the license.
Another game that the revived Telltale will not be working on is Stranger Things. Telltale had been working on a game based on the Netflix property before their shuttering, but after the studio went under, the license reverted back to Netflix. The status of other properties, such as Game of Thrones, Borderlands, Minecraft, and Guardians of the Galaxy also remains unconfirmed for now.
However, Jamie Ottilie has confirmed that Batman and The Wolf Among Us – which was in line to receive a second season before Telltale shut down – rights have been retained, as well as the rights to all original Telltale properties. Ottilie also confirms that “there are some other expired licenses that we’re looking at”. As for whether we can expect the new Telltale to pick up stories for older games where they were left off, Ottilie said, “We’re still evaluating, but we definitely want to continue some of the stories.”
“This is a viable business that went away due to market conditions and some scale choices [Telltale’s previous management] made,” said Ottilie, speaking about his ambitions for the Telltale revival. “I like games that tell stories and I think our industry should have a company that specializes in narrative-driven games.”
The studio plans to remain small and focused on a select few things to start out, and we can probably expect them to continue following the episodic model for games- albeit with some changes. “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.
“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.”
Ottilie is also mindful of the managerial errors that proved to be the downfall of Telltale Games, and insists that those mistakes will not be repeated. “They brought me some of my favorite stories to play and they did an amazing job building a company,” he said. “It’s unfortunate the way that it ended. Certainly we’re working very hard not to make similar mistakes.”