Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season has concluded this week with the release of the fourth and final episode, “Take Us Back.” The episode finally brings a conclusion to The Walking Dead adventure game series that began back in 2012.
The episode almost wasn’t going to happen, as per Telltale’s heavily publicized and dramatic layoffs last year. The massive layoffs, which all but shut down the game studio and left them in liquidation, happened when the second of four planned episodes was released, leaving the final two episodes in limbo.
Skybound Games, which is owned by original Walking Dead comic creator Robert Kirkman, swooped in to finish the series. They contracted most of the development team from Telltale Games (referred to as the Still Not Bitten team) in order to give the game, and the series as a whole, a proper farewell.
“It’s been an amazing experience working with the Still Not Bitten team to finish the final two episodes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead for fans,” said Skybound Games CEO Ian Howe. “I’d like to thank the team for their dedication to completing Clementine’s story, and the fans for embracing Skybound Games as we worked to help bring closure to a story near-and-dear to so many.”
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season is available on PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One. It’s rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language.
Last month Telltale shocked the industry when it laid off over 200 employees, effectively canceling nearly all ongoing projects, including The Walking Dead: The Final Season, which had just launched its second episode (out of a planned four episodes).
A skeleton crew remained to finish some contractual work and keep the lights running. But recently, according to one of the employees who remained, they too were laid off. The drama has been a hot topic within the industry, highlighting problems of worker’s rights, severance pay, and a poorly managed company.
Telltale recently announced that they were shopping around for a partner to continue the unfinished final season of The Walking Dead, which fans have been clamoring for.
Skybound Games picking up The Walking Dead makes a lot of sense. Obviously it’s Kirkman’s company, and they have the license to make The Walking Dead games. Skybound Entertainment was founded in 2010 by Kirkman, while Skybound Games launched earlier this year, and has published The Long Dark and Slime Rancher.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season is available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch. The first two episodes are available, with the final two handled by Skybound Games. They’re rated M for Mature.
Shockingly sad news over the weekend. Telltale Games, who defined the narrative adventure game genre through games like The Walking Dead, Tales from the Borderlands, and Batman: The Enemy Within, has announced a massive layoff citing financial issues. The company laid off 250 employees over the weekend, leaving a tiny crew of 25 to “fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners,” as per the announcement.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for Telltale as we worked to set the company on a new course,” writes Pete Halwey, CEO of Telltale. “Unfortunately, we ran out of time trying to get there. We released some of our best content this year and received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, but ultimately, that did not translate to sales. With a heavy heart we watch our friends leave today to spread our brand of storytelling across the games industry.”
No official cancellations have been made from the company, but reports made from outlets and employees are that all remaining work has shifted toward the Minecraft Story Mode project for Netflix. This leaves future projects like Wolf Among Us Season 2 and Stranger Things effectively canceled. Most distressingly, it leaves The Walking Dead: The Final Season uncompleted, as the second of four episodes is set to launch this week.
Melissa Hutchison, voice actor for The Walking Dead series’ Clementine, issued a statement via twitter. She confirms that she does not know of any plans to continue The Final Season after Episode 2’s release.
Everything is still unconfirmed at this point, with Telltale stating they will “issue further comments regarding its product portfolio in the coming weeks.” With the entire The Walking Dead team gone, however, it’s not looking good for anyone who wanted to see Clementine’s story finally come to an end.
It’s also a bad situation for anyone who purchased the complete season pass, with the assumption that they would be receiving four full episodes of content in the months to come. Reports are surfacing that Microsoft is issuing refunds to anyone who purchased on Xbox One.
Telltale Games was found in 2004, and met some success making quirky adventure games like Sam & Max. They exploded with success after The Walking Dead released in 2012, leading to critical success, huge sales, and the proof that an episodic release schedule can be successful.
In the following six years Telltale has ridden the coattails of that success, doubling down on more licensed, episodic adventure games, such as Game of Thrones and Guardians of the Galaxy. None save Minecraft: Story Mode were financially successful, however. The Walking Dead: The Final Season was the fourth in the series, and meant to finally bring closure to their initial breakout success back in 2012.
Late last year Telltale Games laid off about a quarter of its staff. Earlier this year the Verge published a detailed exposé citing a toxic culture of mismanagement within the company. Leaving the highly touted final season of The Walking Dead unfinished comes as a big shock, as well as the hundreds of employees suddenly without work. For those affected, the hashtag TelltaleJobs is being used by recruiters at other studios.
Episode two of The Walking Dead: The Final Season is still due out tomorrow on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch. It’s rated M for Mature.
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