Last week, Telltale Games laid off the vast majority of its staff, with those affected reportedly including the entire team working on the still-incomplete final season of The Walking Dead. In light of that news, it’s unsurprising to learn that the game has now been removed from sale on digital stores.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season was intended to bring closure to the character of Clementine, whose story began in 2012’s critically acclaimed inaugural season. Telltale’s concluding arc was scheduled to arrive in four parts but, when reports of mass layoffs at the studio emerged, only one episode had been released. A second episode, the last to be completed before staff were dismissed, launched yesterday.
As of earlier today, however, The Walking Dead: The Final Season has been withdrawn from sale across virtually all major digital stores – including Steam, the Xbox Store, the PlayStation Store, and GOG.com. At the time of writing, it’s still available in some locations – Nintendo’s Switch eShop and the UK PlayStation Store, for instance – but that’s likely to change soon.
According to GOG, the game’s removal comes at the behest of Telltale itself. “Telltale has requested a temporary pause of sales of The Walking Dead – Final Season,” the retailer explained, pointing users toward Telltale’s Twitter account for more information.
Telltale confirmed its decision in a separate statement, telling Polygon, “Yes, we have removed season passes for The Walking Dead: The Final Season from stores for the time being.” It further explained that the studio is “currently still working to find a way to hand off production of episodes 3 and 4 so that the season can be completed. The outcome of those efforts will determine when and how The Final Season returns to stores.”
A firm announcement, it said, would hopefully arrive before the week is out.
Telltale first revealed that it was investigating ways to complete the remaining episodes of The Walking Dead: The Final Season earlier this week. However, its initial announcement offered little suggestion of how this might be achieved given that it had just laid off the vast majority of its workforce, reportedly without severance pay, and that its 25 remaining employees were seemingly focussed on completing Netflix’s Minecraft: Story Mode adaptation.
Telltale’s new statement suggests that it intends to hand development of The Walking Dead’s final two episodes over to another studio entirely.
Whatever happens, the shockwaves from last week’s events (which, according to Variety, were the result of failed deals with AMC and Smilegate, alongside funding withdrawal by Lionsgate) are likely to be felt for some time. Indeed, Telltale already faces a class-action lawsuit filed by former employee Vernie Roberts on behalf of himself and other colleagues affected by layoffs.
The lawsuit argues that Telltale failed to comply with the US government’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification act – which requires employers to give staff 60 days advance notice of mass layoffs – and demands payment of unpaid wages and benefits for that period. Industry site GameDaily.biz has a more thorough breakdown of the legal complexities of the case.
Despite the extreme difficulties faced by staff following Telltale’s collapse, many have taken to the internet to celebrate the talents and accomplishments of their former colleagues, sharing their favourite, occasionally eye-opening memories of their time at the studio.