In December 2017, Telltale Games CEO Pete Hawley said he believed the company was in “really good shape,” rejecting the idea that the company was “in trouble.” He also said he was eager to announce new things for 2019 including original IP and “new gameplay.” Less than a year after making those statements, all of that it is now in question, it seems, as Telltale Games recently announced a “majority studio closure.”
A December 2017 interview that Hawley, a former Zynga executive, gave to GamesBeat now reads in a different way in the wake of the sad and shocking news about Telltale
Here’s what Hawley had to say about Telltale’s 2019 plans in that older interview:
“Getting into 2019 we’ll have some new IP to talk about, some original IP, and new gameplay too. The next couple of years, we’ll be locking in the road map soon and we’re really excited about it. Just took a couple of months to dig into the business and fix a few problems based on the last five years, but I think we’re in really good shape.”
Hawley joined Telltale as its new CEO in September 2017. He came to Telltale from Zynga, where he was senior vice president and general manager since 2014. Before that, he worked at Lionhead on the Fable franchise with Peter Molyneux; he also worked at Sony and EA.
One of the first major decisions Hawley over at Telltale was a staff reduction. In November 2017, Telltale cut 25 percent of its workforce, which at the time was around 90 people. In the December 2017 interview, Hawley said the move was necessary to help prepare Telltale for the future.
“People may be looking at us and thinking we’re in trouble, but in the end, we’re looking to the future,” he said at the time. “We’re super excited. I just think we had to take this time and opportunity to pause the production line, take some time out, re-establish who we are and what we’re great at, and take some more time and investment to get back to our best. I’ve spent some time collecting some pretty negative inbound, so I wanted an opportunity to talk about the position we’re in and how good we feel about the future.”
Telltale has not completely closed down, as a group of around 25 people are staying on for the foreseeable future. However, the studio’s other 225 people are out of work. On Monday, September 24, former employees will be allowed back into the building to collect their things.
Hawley said Telltale will be making further announcements about the future of the company, including updates on its in-development games, in the coming weeks. Given the significant staffing reduction, it seems extremely unlikely that all of the projects will come out. As for why Telltale is scaling back, Hawley said the studio’s games failed to find a big enough audience.