Pocket Gamer speaks: Is a new studio finishing The Walking Dead a good thing?
The death march
The big story in the world of gaming over the past few weeks has been the sad demise of Telltale Games. Once heralded as a forerunner of the return of narrative games, the studio closed down suddenly, leaving hundreds of people out of work and the conclusion to series like The Walking Dead up in the air.
Recently, it's been rumoured that a different studio is coming in to finish off the game. It's a drive being headed by Robert Kirkman, who created the comics that the games have been sort-of based on.
But is this a good thing? For fans of the game, for the people who were at Telltale, and for the industry as a whole? That seemed like the sort of thing that we should be talking about, so we sat down for one of our Pocket Gamer speaks round tables to get the views of the team.
Dave Bradley - Our pragmatic leader
Is this a good thing? Pragmatically, yes. Because it means gamers and fans will get a finished experience. And the game's completion rests in good hands: Skybound Games is taking it on.
Skybound was founded by Robert Kirkman, the original creator of the Walking Dead comics and the ultimate authority on the franchise. So in a sense, the story is going home. There's a possibility that he'll keep some of the original team involved.
But more existentially it's not a good thing. Let's not forget this is only happening because 250 people lost their jobs with no warning and no severance pay. That sucks, and points to something rotten at the heart of the games industry. It should never have come to this.
And the pro-union group Game Workers Unite have been scathing about how this could even occur.
It's possible to accept an outcome - a finished game, from some credible creators - while hating the circumstances, right?
Dave Aubrey - Your topless guide
The success of The Walking Dead made Telltale Games the studio they are now. The resurgence of narrative adventure games is thanks to Telltale and TWD. Can another studio do the series justice? It's impossible to say until we see it for ourselves.
For fans, seeing a conclusion to a beloved series is essential. For the developers though, having their series taken away from them - regardless of the reason - is somewhat heartbreaking. After all, it is the passion of the developers at Telltale Games that brought the series this far in the first place.
We can only hope that fresh developers will refresh the series, while still bringing the satisfying conclusion that fans so desperately want.
Emily Sowden - News-sodden word louche
As I'm a fan of the Telltale games it's a tricky question to answer without being a bit biased. Though a new studio taking over might mean we'll see the end of Clementine's story, I feel bittersweet about it all.
Whatever way you look at it hundreds of people lost their jobs without warning or severance pay and weren't able to finish one of the most beloved and iconic series that put Telltale on the map. Clem's story is such a powerful one that deserved to be told by the team that worked so hard to raise her up. Passing it off to another studio (despite Rob Kirkman being at the wheel) feels like the games industry version of the kid in your group at school who shows up to take credit for the presentation, but did none of the work.
I know Skybound is aiming to hire on the original development team to finish the season, but then what? Once the job is done, do the developers just have to go off on the arduous hunt for work again? Both as a consumer and a professional in the industry, I really wish it didn't have to come to this in the first place for all parties involved.
As for the original question, I can't actually be happy about the game's completion without feeling angry at the event that lead us here. So I guess I'm on the fence until further notice.
Ric Cowley - The last angry editor
250 people lost their jobs without warning and without severance pay. 250 people had to watch as the Internet started shouting about how awful it is that they won't get to play their video game, about how the developers should just continue working for free on a game that had clearly cost a lot of money to make. Those 250 people are probably still looking for work right now.
I couldn't care less about Skybound Games finishing Telltale's The Walking Dead. Will it be any good? Yeah, probably. But 250 people are still screwed whether the game gets finished or not. And that's what we need to remember in all of this.
Robert Kirkham wants to bring back the original devs to finish the game - great. But not everyone at Telltale was on that team. There were other games in development, alongside prototypes that will never see the light of day.
Talented artists, devs, programmers, producers, writers, and more working on equally brilliant things, but because their work wasn't "unfinished" in the public eye, there's no offer of respite for them.
Unless Skybound Games somehow has the money to hire 250 people, it's not a good thing that it's taking over a game based on its own IP. It's just business. It's about as neutral as it gets.