Game Workers Unite blasts Telltale over surprise layoffs

A pro-union organization has issued a scathing statement over Telltale Games’ treatment of its employees, 250 of whom were terminated without notice or severance Friday when the studio announced that it was closing down.

Game Workers Unite placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Telltale’s executives, describing the management of the studio as “incompetent” and “exploitative.”

“We know that the management disregards their workers,” the organization said in the statement issued Saturday. “Several reports have continually highlighted the working conditions at Telltale, demonstrating that this is more of the ongoing prioritization of board members and shareholders that has existed since the studio’s founding – always to the detriment of their employees.”

Former Telltale narrative designer Emily Grace Buck explained on Twitter that none of the approximately 250 laid off employees received any prior notice or severance pay, and that many were contract employees who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits in the U.S.

Telltale was hiring new employees as recently as a week prior to the announcement, and at least one of these had relocated across the country to take the job.

Several studios have reached out via Twitter and the hashtag #telltalejobs to help them find new places to work. Ubisoft San Francisco, the studio behind Rocksmith and South Park: The Fractured But Whole is hosting an impromptu jobs fair in San Rafael Monday:

Harebrained Schemes, developers of Necropolis and BattleTech, said it has job openings in Seattle.

BioWare narrative director John Epler reached out and said his company is hiring as well:

But Game Workers Unite say it shouldn’t come to this, and that unionization is the way to protect individual developers from financial insecurity.

“We cannot continue to just be reactive to these events, it is a losing battle. We can’t just send out job lists after every major studio closure. We have to be proactive. We have to be unionized before these disasters escalate too far.”

The full statement can be found here.

Telltale Games management has not issued a further statement since the announcement that the studio was closing down.