Following the announcement of Telltale Games’ sudden closure yesterday, some former employees have taken to Twitter to share grim details about their work environment and subsequent layoffs. Many of the comments shed light on poor management practices that have led to 250 people becoming jobless – some of whom were recently hired and started working for the studio just a week ago.
The most detailed account of the layoffs comes from narrative designer Emily Grace Buck, who has revealed that none of Telltale employees will be receiving any severance, and that their healthcare coverage lasts only for another week. Many were contractors who will not be receiving unemployment either.
“Due to the insanely high cost of living in the Bay Area relative to pay scale, many of my (unbelievably skilled and talented) colleagues were living paycheck to paycheck and do not know what they are going to do to make ends meet this month,” wrote Buck. “There are people who started at Telltale as recently as a week ago. Some of those people have children. At least one of them relocated cross country.”
Buck revealed that employees were paid for their work up until yesterday, following which they were “shown the door.”
Former character artist Brandon Cebenka cautioned his followers against working overtime without compensation, stating that companies don’t care about their employees, and that one’s health is more important than work. “None of my sleepless nights or long hours on weekends trying to ship a game on time got me severance today,” he tweeted.
The harshest criticism came from former developer Job J. Stauffer, who parted ways with Telltale last year following a round of layoffs. He revealed that the “immeasurably fast-paced and stressful” environment at Telltale “nearly killed” him. Stauffer also criticized CEO Pete Hawley for mismanaging the situation.
“Majorly poor form, Pete Hawley,” he tweeted. “This should have never happened. Also, never deliver news this seriously devastating over Twitter with a Family Guy avatar.”
On a more positive note, Stauffer told affected developers that they have survived “some seriously aggressive production ethics” and reassured them that things will look up from here.
The good news is that leading industry developers are coming together to help former Telltale employees, offering to discuss job opportunities. Naughty Dog, Ubisoft, Sony Bend, Epic Games, and Gearbox were among many companies who reached out.
Our thoughts go out to all those who are affected.