This delay comes just two weeks following the company’s raise of $8 million in a Series A funding round, which seemed to indicate that the company’s revival had been kicked into high gear. While the company still has one game slated for release this year, The Expanse, the delay of this eagerly awaited sequel is likely to hit a sour note with fans.
However, it’s worth noting that Telltale had serious issues with crunch time and staff burnout prior to its original closure, and on this evidence it’s clear that this is something the company is eager to avoid.
"Making games is difficult and they need time to be right," said CEO Jamie Ottilie. "And it doesn't do any of us any good to ship something that's not ready."
The Wolf Among Us is based on the Fables comic book series by Bill Willingham, and follows the inhabitants of Fabletown, a community of characters from folklore and fairy tales living in 1980’s New York, with players controlling sheriff Bigby Wolf as he investigates a series of murders.
The Wolf Among Us was nominated for numerous industry awards, and The Wolf Among Us 2 is set to introduce characters from The Wizard of Oz to the story. The game was first unveiled in 2019, as the first project of the newly-revived Telltale Games, however the company struggled with development due to the pandemic.
Speaking to IGN, Ottilie stated that while the company’s strategy of announcing the game during early development was a part of a strategy to help secure funding and support, he would have taken a different approach had he known about upcoming factors affecting the industry.
Will this saga have a fairy tale ending?
Ottilie notes that there were two ways the company could have met the 2023 release window. The first would be to ship an unfinished game, which was taken off the table.
"If we put this game out and it's not ready, we're going to get torn to shreds," he says. "The expectations are pretty high, and we want time to meet those and we want to be proud of it and know that, 'Hey, this is the best game we could have made.' Let the world say what they will [once] it's done, but at least we know that in these times, in these conditions, this is the best game that we could make."
Another option would be to institute crunch time, which was reportedly a problem for the original incarnation of Telltale Games. This was a mistake that Telltale is seemingly keen to avoid repeating, especially as crunch time has been a subject of increased criticism in recent years.
“We don't want to burn out our good people. It has been incredibly difficult to recruit the last two years between Covid and the labour markets and the growth in the games industry,” said Ottilie.
“Burning people out or grinding them down is the wrong thing to do long-term. It's not how you build a business. And as an industry, we're terrible about it. We burn our people out. We burn our best people out faster. And as an industry, if we're going to continue to grow, we have to stop it. We just have to stop doing it and make better choices."
In an effort to combat crunch and staff burnout, numerous game developers, such as Bandai Namco, are trialling four-day work weeks.