After Telltale Games closed suddenly, the company disappeared. There are still some legal issues there, but the company name and some of the licenses were sold. This is breathing new life into the company, and it could signal the return of some of your favorite series. So, how did this happen?
About six months ago, the new owners, Brian Waddle and Jamie Ottilie, started to negotiate the sale. It was described as “complex”, and it’s no wonder when you are dealing with creditors and bankruptcy. They are keeping the negotiated price a secret, and we still don’t know which licenses will be utilized in the future. The only statement from Ottilie is, “We’re still evaluating, but we definitely want to continue some of the stories”. If you’re wondering, you can kiss a Stranger Things game goodbye, because the rights went back to Netflix when Telltale closed. The Walking Dead was purchased by Skybound, so that’s off the table too.
The new owners say they do like adventure games and believe in the strength of the genre. Although episodic games are probably still on the menu, they want to change the pacing and delivery. They “like the idea of binge watching”. I would just be happy for some consistency in episode delivery, but a whole game at a time isn’t bad either.
Ottilie and Waddle will have big shoes to fill, but they are not completely new to gaming. Ottilie founded the development company Galaxy Pest Control which makes licensed games with Power Rangers and Duck Dynasty. Waddle was in sales and marketing for the Havok engine. There is also financial backing from Tobias Sjogren (used to be at Starbreeze), Chris Kingsley (Rebellion), and Lyle Hall (Heavy Iron Studios). Athlon Games will handle publishing and distribution.
For now, Ottilie isn’t giving away many clues as to the company’s first project. He described the short-term plans as the following:
“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. 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.”
It’s not often a company gets a second shot at life. Even though many of the employees have moved on, some will receive an opportunity to be freelance developers with the new Telltale with a potential for full-time employment in the future. I hope the owners can bring the old spirit back and give us many more great games in the future.
Oh, and can one of those games be season 2 of The Wolf Among Us?
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Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.