REPORT: Apparently everything aside from TWDS1 and Minecraft were financial failures

https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/comicbook.com/gaming/amp/2018/09/22/telltale-closure-the-walking-dead-minecraft-batman/

So according to the report, Walking dead season 1 and Minecraft were the only products that actually made money.

Everything else was at best a sales failure or outright tanked. Borderlands? Game of thrones? Batman? Guardians?

Everything failed, with Batman in particular tanking (which is both surprising since it felt like that one got solid media exposure, but I guess also makes sense since the Arkham games are wildly successful)

Hell, even all the endless Walking dead sequels and spin offs lost money as well.

This news makes me angry. Angry because I love some of these titles and feel like they got cruelly written off by smug people who mocked Telltale without playing them. Also angry because it feels like the good ship Telltale was losing money for a long time, but that they were unable or more likely unwilling to change.

So...yeah...don't get any hopes up about Walking dead final season being finished. It would just be throwing good money away.

Comments

  • Shouldn’t be too surprised, I guess.. Batman and Guardians in particular never seemed to generate much buzz here at all. They came and went and I barely noticed, certainly didn’t feel an urge to buy them. Season 2 and Game of Thrones being flops is a bit more shocking though, since things were still relatively fresh and those games dropped at like the height of their respective shows’ popularity.

  • Damn straight.
    No wonder the news that TFS's fate being very nebulous at best in light of Telltale apparently closing didn't really bother me in the slightest.

  • edited September 2018

    TWAU and TwD2 both have solden over 1M on Steam, I doubt they were failures.

  • edited September 2018


    The real pain started happening with Tales from the Borderlands and kept going with Batman: Enemy Within absolutely tanking. They should have downsized in 2014 when sales started to drop off instead of continuing to hire up to 410 people by 2017.

    Box Tv posted: »

    TWAU and TwD2 both have solden over 1M on Steam, I doubt they were failures.

  • edited September 2018

    This speaks volumes about how high production costs and expenses must have been at Telltale if this is true. TWAU was a huge seller for Telltale, as was TWD S2 and a couple of others, to hear that those still didn’t break even is very telling of the inner turmoil with the studios’s expansion.

    I remember reading an article from February, 2011 where Steve Allison, Telltale’s SVP of Marketing at the time, said how Telltale only needs to sell about 100,000 copies to break even.

    http://emoney.allthingsd.com/20110217/telltale-signs-that-videogames-will-be-downloaded-not-sold-at-retail/?mod=ATD_skybox

    Even if these games weren’t selling as much as TWD S1, I find it hard to believe they weren’t hitting that 100,000 number, so what else could explain it? The answer: rising costs and expenses that Telltale failed to control and correct. Even under Hawley, the company just could slow down, at the end, there were still just too many people, too many projects, and too many expenses pay, that no matter what sold and how much they took in in revenue, it wasn’t translating to profit. All I know is I would both love/hate to see what Telltale’s actual income statement looked like.

  • edited September 2018

    Anything can generate a bunch of revenue, but when costs and expenses are so high, even 1 million copies sold might not be enough to generate a good profit.

    A movie like Solo made over $400 million at the box office, while a movie like Whiplash made only $49 million. Guess which movie ended up being more profitable: Whiplash. Solo was considered a box office bomb because, while it made more than its budget ($250 million), it lost an estimated $50-80 million because of other costs. Whiplash only had a budget of like $3 million, meaning their room for profit was greater.

    Box Tv posted: »

    TWAU and TwD2 both have solden over 1M on Steam, I doubt they were failures.

  • edited September 2018

    Choosing the most expensive part of California for your HQ also means you have to keep your wages high so your employees can afford to live and pay rent. And 410 staff at their max is a ludicrous amount of people for the kind of games they made. That dwarfs a lot of AAA studios like CD Projekt Red. They overreached after TWD S1 hoping for a series of runaway hits and paid the price.

    Anything can generate a bunch of revenue, but when costs and expenses are so high, even 1 million copies sold might not be enough

  • Not surprised that ANF, GOTG, Minecraft and Batman performed very poorly. Combine that with the poor toxic work culture and very poor management, I'm not surprised it led to this despite The final season's performance. As sad it is to say, I really don't think Telltale had much of a future at this rate if they weren't closing.

  • So while we were all yelling at telltale for adding more dlc and a second season to Minecraft story mode they were really trying to help their company. I would be completely fine with a third season of Minecraft if it meant saving the company. Just make a fucking Fortnite series (that I would NEVER touch) and telltale has a couple extra million dollars in their pockets.

  • Not too mention getting more and more ambitious with the IP licensing. I sincerely doubt the likes of Guardians or GoT came cheaply. Made worse by running so many projects concurrently. It’s honestly surprising they didn’t immediately go under in early 2017 after Batman, ANF and Guardians flopped within months of each other.

    Choosing the most expensive part of California for your HQ also means you have to keep your wages high so your employees can affor

  • In hindsight, the market just got oversaturated with similar products. Every Telltale game used the same engine and the same gameplay.

    Now myself and anyone else on this board could expand at length about the vast differences between each title, how the storytelling of Bigby Wolf is radically different from the space cowboy adventure of Rhys and Fiona, but to the average gamer, they probably just saw "a Telltale game". The same game they already played before.

    It's interesting that Telltale's final product will most likely be that Netflix Minecraft collaboration, because it raises questions about what Telltale could have done differently.

    And it's all but certain that the remaining skeleton staff is just working on Minecraft, likely because Netflix is holding Telltale to the deal they cut to get this content from them.

  • edited September 2018

    Wow! Batman and Minecraft didn’t even sell 500,000 copies combined. I had no idea that so many people weren’t interested in sticking with TellTale and with episodic format. This is such a shame.

    The real pain started happening with Tales from the Borderlands and kept going with Batman: Enemy Within absolutely tanking. They should have downsized in 2014 when sales started to drop off instead of continuing to hire up to 410 people by 2017.

  • Bit shocked that Borderlands didn't do well... it was hugely popular in the community.

  • Borderlands underperforming sadly makes sense. People who hate that franchise, REALLY hate it. People who love that franchise rarely played it for the story. The average player had too high a level of franchise knowledge to get into it.

    It was everyone's loss because I'll strongly advocate for that being Telltale's best work.

    Coolgamer posted: »

    Bit shocked that Borderlands didn't do well... it was hugely popular in the community.

  • ...I'm not sure I believe that. TWD S2 has sold 2,000,000 copies on Steam ALONE, how in the actual hell could that be a failure on any level? Do you want to know how many copies Minecraft SM sold on Steam? 300,000.
    Plus if Batman bombed, why tf would they make a second season??? Calling BS on this report

  • It was accurate as of November 2017. If you want to check yourself, you can access Steam Spy statistics and make your own graph. From all I've heard after the shutdown from ex-employees, Batman: Enemy Within was the one that bombed big time and caused them major trouble.

    Cdognkal2 posted: »

    ...I'm not sure I believe that. TWD S2 has sold 2,000,000 copies on Steam ALONE, how in the actual hell could that be a failure on

  • edited September 2018

    TWAU was a huge seller for Telltale, as was TWD S2 and a couple of others, to hear that those still didn’t break even is very telling of the inner turmoil with the studios’s expansion.

    That's somewhat misleading. Steam ownership doesn't equate directly to retail sales. More critically, it correlates even less to purchases at $35.

    TWAU, for instance, has been bundled multiple times by Humble Bundle for instance, and has regularly sold for $6.24 and $4.99 on Humble and Steam.

    Similarly, with Walking Dead Season 2, it's been in Humble Bundles as well at the "Beat the Average" tier. It's also regularly been on sale at $3.74 - $4.99.
    That's not taking into consideration the insanely priced "Everything Pack" sales during Steam sales.

    So, Steam ownership isn't going to give any real indication as to how profitable a title was or wasn't for the developer. The article you link isn't saying Telltale "only needs to sell about 100,000 copies to break even". It's saying that Telltale's breakeven point at that point in time, with 90 employees, was 100,000 sales at $35 a copy/season.

    I can promise you that of those 1,000,000 copies of TWAU owned on Steam, very few of those were purchased at full price.

    This speaks volumes about how high production costs and expenses must have been at Telltale if this is true. TWAU was a huge selle

  • edited September 2018

    True, Steam ownership won't give the full picture and we wouldn't know that without seeing all the console, PC and mobile sales combined. For instance I'm sure Minecraft Story Mode did much better on mobile than on PC. It does show a general trend though, and shows that interest and sales were slipping over time which correlates with what ex-employees are saying.

    JJoyce posted: »

    TWAU was a huge seller for Telltale, as was TWD S2 and a couple of others, to hear that those still didn’t break even is very tell

  • Which is crazy given it was the best TT game since Tales at that point. Guardians was also really good for characters and choices with consequences but of course no one gave it a chance because apparently it’s wrong to be ‘too much like the movies’ which only made millions of dollars...

    It was accurate as of November 2017. If you want to check yourself, you can access Steam Spy statistics and make your own graph. F

  • Honestly, if even such a highly acclaimed game such as The Wolf Among Us caused TellTale to lose money, then something went wrong with management and allocation of resources. After giving it some thought, I'm not as surprised Batman tanked hard. I doubt Troy Baker and Laura Bailey come cheap and TellTale used them for a total of three seasons of their content (Tales from the Borderlands, Batman Seasons 1 and 2). They spent way too much money just making the games in the first place.

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