Telltale plans to finish The Walking Dead despite mass layoffs

After Friday’s surprise announcement that more than 90 percent of Telltale’s staff had been let go, the company now says it is talking to “potential partners” that could help complete the current, final season of .

Part two of the planned four-part episodic adventure game series launched today, and the season was previously set to conclude on December 18.

But Telltale confirmed in a tweeted statement last night that it is “actively working on a solution that will allow episodes 3 and 4 to be completed and released in some form.” To that end, the company says that “multiple potential partners have stepped forward to express interest in helping to see The Final Season through to completion.”

While 25 of Telltale’s 275 employees are being retained by the company for now, Netflix indicated in a statement that skeleton staff will be finishing up work on , which is “moving forward as planned.” Negotiations between Netflix and Telltale for a potential episodic game are now out the window, though, and Netflix says it will be “evaluating other options for bringing the universe to life in an interactive medium.”

Variety reports that the third episode of ‘s final season is “extremely close to finished,” while the fourth is still in “very rough” shape. That report also goes into detail on Telltale employees’ optimism about the season earlier this week, before a needed round of funding unexpectedly fell through.

“There is such a responsibility that comes with this now that we are synonymous with ‘The Walking Dead’ comic,” designer Mark Darin told . “We have a responsibility to the fans and to the world in which ‘The Walking Dead’ lives.”

“We aren’t replaceable”

Many fans who purchased are expressing relief that they’ll get some sort of resolution to the series’ sprawling story. But many in the game industry relayed shock and dismay that the shell of Telltale was effectively looking to outsource the conclusion of the long-running series after letting its creators go with no warning or severance.

“We aren’t replaceable,” Telltale narrative design alumnus Emily Grace Buck said on Twitter. “None of the former Telltale employees are or have ever been replaceable. They’re quality. And they all deserve so much better.”

 Director Cory Barlog added that he hoped Telltale “will first pay your entire team their severance, and then proceed to finish the final episodes. I would be fine waiting however long it took to ensure we first treated those who worked so hard with the humanity and respect they deserve.”

“It sucks when an audience invests 6 years in a story only to have it cut short at the last minute,” writer Walt Williams tweeted. “It sucks WAAAAAY more to fire the people who created that story, without severance, and then finish it without them.”

Telltale’s fate, and that of its employees, has also given new urgency to recent talk of unionization in some corners of the industry.

Game Workers Unite, an independent group pushing for industry members to organize, issued a scathing statement over the weekend saying these kinds of closures and mass layoffs are “a problem endemic in the industry.”

“Let us be clear. The executives at Telltale are incompetent,” the statement continues. “They are exploitative. They knew that this was coming and failed to warn anybody… We as workers can forge a better industry with sustainable, fair, and dignified working conditions. An industry that provides safety nets and holds our companies accountable. An industry where no worker lives in fear of being exploited by the executives of the company.”

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