If you were surprised when Telltale Games announced the revival of the ill-fated The Wolf Among Us 2, I can hardly blame you—the company, quite publicly, went under over a year ago. However, at The Game Awards this year, a company donning the name of Telltale stood up and announced that The Wolf Among Us 2 is happening.
So who are these people? Did the industry darling manage to quietly pull themselves together from the wreckage of last September? Not at all. This is effectively a new company, with the name and assets of the old Telltale bought by another, LCG Entertainment. But let’s put a pin in LCG for now.
It would be more accurate to say that Telltale as a brand has been revived. The brand was bought and is now headed by Jamie Ottilie and Brian Waddle, two people who have had no prior experience with the company. Ottilie and Waddle are, of course, under no obligation to make up for the failings of the old Telltale, but it isn’t accurate to say Telltale is back—that would involve a majority of the approximately 250 former employees who previously made the games coming back too.
Kotaku’s Jason Schreier puts it best, “…a bunch of people are taking a familiar, beloved name and slapping it on something brand new.”
But they don’t just have the name. When new Telltale rose from the ashes August this year, some of the back catalog of games returned to storefronts, with more games in the works. While the licenses to hits such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things—the latter of which didn’t even see a single episode released—have now expired, LCG Entertainment revealed they still retain the rights to make games based on Batman and, as we now know, The Wolf Among Us.
It wasn’t long before this company was reviving another Telltale trend, creating some controversy regarding worker’s rights. The former employees never got the severance pay they were after, having lost their jobs at a day’s notice last year. Now, new Telltale is offering some of them their jobs back on a freelance basis, with full-time work a “possibility” in the future.
Former lead-writer for Telltale, Jess Krause, was less than impressed with the deal. “If this new Telltale really wants to bring back the studio and are genuine in their intents, then I honestly hope it works out. But hiring former devs on a freelance basis in the most expensive part of the country doesn’t really encourage me that much,” said Krause.
The ex-Telltale writer also suggested that no one from the narrative team had been offered their old jobs, which raises a lot of questions about the story-heavy games the old company had been known for. But who will be working on The Wolf Among Us? Well, it’s a mixed bag.
Huh, this article indicates some really talented folks who left Telltale before my time might actually be the ones making this, which would be great. Still, my heart goes out to the team that started work on Wolf 2. https://t.co/RVwjzlOIHu
— Scott Butterworth (@Butterwomp) December 13, 2019
Let’s unpin what we were saying about LCG Entertainment. Information on them is scarce, but it is a holding company, which means it’s essentially a parent company that doesn’t make anything themselves. Rather it manages the various companies it owns.
While the thought of a faceless LCG Entertainment creating the much-anticipated sequel is worrying, there is a glimmer of hope. They aren’t the ones running the show for the sequel—the reigns are in the hands of AdHoc Studio. This lesser-known developer, formed by four employees, is mostly comprised of ex-Telltalers who worked on the narrative side of games.
It was clarified to US Gamer in late December that the “narrative and cinematic” aspects of The Wolf Among Us 2 will be lead by AdHoc. So while it seems that LCG Entertainment is unlikely to recruit the team that had already poured work into the canceled The Wolf Among Us 2, it’s at least in the hands of some developers who have previously worked with the format. They have also made it clear that they want to overhaul in some ways Telltale never got the chance to, like finally abandoning their outdated engine.
Perhaps even more reassuring is AdHoc’s approach to treating their workers. AdHoc CEO Michael Choung says, “…because we’re creatives ourselves, we’ll really be focused on recognizing, empowering, and ultimately retaining creative talent.” The keyword being “retain,” since the gaming industry is notoriously bad for job security.
So where does that leave us? In short: The Wolf Among Us 2 isn’t going to be made the same team who had anything to do with the previously canceled sequel, but it is led by people who worked on the first season. The new Telltale Games doesn’t yet consist of anyone from the previous company. It’s just new people using the name, and it is unlikely much of the old crew will return.
Despite using the familiar name, CEO Ottilie has made it clear the new company does not feel any obligation towards the employees of the previous. It’s reported they only want to reach around 30 employees, a far cry from Telltale of old’s 250.
Telltale Games have been contacted for comment but did not respond at the time of publication.