Paige FTW: A Requiem For Telltale

I never liked The Walking Dead comic or TV show — typically I do not like zombie fare — but I did play Telltale Games’ famous, critically renowned first season.

It was … extremely good. I sobbed during the game’s climactic final decision — (spoilers for a game that came out six years ago) Lee asking Clementine to kill him before he turns. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to make Clem do it. But the idea of leaving Lee to die a miserable death after all we had been through together … I couldn’t do that either.
It remains, to this day, one of the most gut-wrenching moments I’ve ever experienced in a video game.

I played quite a few other Telltale titles — Game of Thrones, The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead: Season Two — but none ever reached that emotional peak for me.

And now, no game ever will.

Telltale announced last week that it was closing its doors. Hundreds of developers were laid off without severance, and most of its future game commitments, including the in-progress final season of The Walking Dead and the announced sequels to … a lot of things, would be left unfulfilled.

Immediately, reports swirled about what had happened. Developers were legendarily overworked and burnt out. There was a leadership issue. Talent kept jumping ship. Plus, unverified reports claimed that none of its games had made a profit since that famous first The Walking Dead.

Let us hope the demise of Telltale marks a change for the better in the industry as a whole. Game developers should unionize. Publishers should recognize when the model is falling apart. Quality should be prioritized over quantity, just generally.

From the greatest heights, Telltale fell. Their model of gaming will survive — Life is Strange seems to be going strong with its spin on the formula — but the studio’s signature touch goes with it.
“Clementine will remember this.”

And so will we.