What Gaming Studios Could Learn From Telltale Shutdown



Telltale Games Has Shut Down


By now, people who pay close attention to the video game industry will have heard of the shutdown of Telltale Games. There are a number of explanations for what happened, which might provide said individuals with some interesting thoughts to mull over. Something that is particularly true because there is reason to believe that the failures of Telltale Games are not limited to a single video game developer.


What Can We Learn from Telltale Games Shutting Down?


For starters, a wide range of people have commented on the lack of profitability for most of Telltale Games’ titles. Some people have blamed it on an over-saturation of its particular segment of the video game market because adventure games were more popular in the past than in the present. However, other people have pointed fingers at the cost of the franchises that Telltale Games was licensing, which could not have been cheap because examples of said franchises included BatmanGame of Thrones, and Guardians of the Galaxy. With that said, it seems probable that the lack of profitability can be connected to some extent to Telltale Games’ bad business practices.




What Gaming Studios Could Learn From Telltale Shutdown




First, Telltale Games was infamous for the poor treatment of its personnel. For example, it had a crunch culture, which is when video game developers are forced to spend long hours on intensive video game development because of a need to meet tight schedules with no slack in them. Even worse, the episodic nature of Telltale Games’ adventure games made its particular version of crunch culture even worse than its counterparts. After all, other video game developers had cooldown periods following releases, meaning that their personnel weren’t locked into intensive video game development on a constant basis.


In contrast, the personnel at Telltale Games were expected to move onto the next project as soon as one project had been completed, meaning that they were on constant crunch time. Unsurprisingly, this meant that there was a high turnover rate at Telltale Games because of burnout, which is a serious problem because the loss of personnel means the loss of valuable expertise and experience that can’t be recouped in a simple and straightforward manner. Moreover, it should be noted that burnout tends to hit the people with the most passion the hardest because they tend to be the ones giving as much as possible in the first place.


Second, Telltale Games might have been an indie video game developer at one point in time, but by the time of its collapse, it had entered the ranks of mid-level companies with personnel numbering in the low hundreds. Unfortunately, its business practices were never updated to reflect these changed circumstances, which led to serious problems because what might have worked for a small group of like-minded people who were familiar with one another didn’t work for a much bigger group of people who had a much reduced awareness of who was who as well as what was happening at any one time.





What Gaming Studios Could Learn From Telltale Shutdown





As a result, there were horror stories of personnel who were plucked out of one project before being tossed into another, whose understandings of the stories that they were working on were weeks and weeks out of date because they had never been updated on the latest situation. On top of this, Telltale Games seems to have been rife with other bad business practices, with examples ranging from over-aggressive expansion to poor time management that made it impossible for its personnel to polish its products even once the tester reviews had come in.


Further Considerations


The problems at Telltale Games are common throughout much of the video game industry. For example, it is no secret that video game developers tend to be both over-worked and under-paid, which is something that the video game industry can get away with because there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about video games. Unfortunately, the current state of things shows no signs of changing anytime soon, meaning that these problems are likely to haunt the video game industry as a whole far into the future.