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"Disgusting": Telltale's plans to continue The Walking Dead slammed by Game Workers Unite

From GameWatcher: "Telltale's remains are still twitching, as it turns out! In a recent tweet, the former adventure game developer has announced that there are, in fact, plans to wrap up their The Walking Dead series, but there's a catch."

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otakuapologist24d ago

Telltale Games had over 200 employees from what I read. The number of productive employees in a company is the square root of the number of employees. One fourth of your employees do 50% of the work. The number is universal in pretty much every company.

There's nothing wrong about kicking out inefficient employees and continuing operations. The other option is shutting operations when you can't keep your slackers on life-support anymore. My own company died when I tried to be charitable with people. It takes that kind of fall to learn the harsh reality of the resource game.

Eonjay24d ago

Telltale is said to be firing all of its employees without severance and pushing the work of Walking Dead to 'partners' (outsourcing). Nothing that you said applies here.

kevnb24d ago

Plus he is making some outrageous assumptions.

indysurfn23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

Thank you Eonjay! I can't believe people instantly defend companies for evil.

Quote:
if Telltale has the money to finish The Walking Dead, they have the money to pay their workers severance pay.

Another quote:
developers' rights as workers, has railed against Telltale: "This is disgusting," they said. "Pay your 250+ previous employees' severance."

itsmebryan24d ago

How do you know how many workers are lazy? What happened with you doesn't have to happen everywhere.

I think it's a good idea to finish what they started and not leave the gamers who bought with an incomplete product.

Apollosupreme24d ago

He's referring to a study when he gets into math in his post.

It sucks whenever someone is fired no doubt but I figured i should point that part out.

Chexs199023d ago (Edited 23d ago )

He's not stating that three fourths of the workers are lazy bro. He's saying that 50% of the primary workload distribution is handled by one fourth of the employees when a company gets too big.
It's just statistical discrepancy between employee workload :)

Basically, the best people in any given section of the development process, gets more to do because, well, they're the best :P

CorndogBurglar23d ago

@ Apollosupreme and Chexs1990

The problem is that what he is SAYING and the numbers he's presenting don't match up.

He stated that the number of PRODUCTIVE employees is the square root of the number of employees. Lets just say Telltale had 200 employees. The square root of 200 is 14.14. Lets just call it 14. That means that the other 286 employees are NOT productive.

Then he goes on to say that 1/4th of employees handle 50% of the workload of a company. 1/4th of 200 is 50. So if only 14 people are productive in a company of 200 employees then it doesn't make sense for the 1/4th to handle 50% of the workload. That would mean 36 of those 50 are also productive employees.

Making statements and giving numbers that don't add up make me feel like he is just spouting out nonsense that he heard and not something that he knows.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 23d ago
rainslacker24d ago

I doubt it would even take 200 employees to ever make.a single walking dead game.

They laid off the people that weren't needed, and if i had to guess, a good number of the ones that were laid off were probably contract workers anyhow.

While it truly does suck for those who lost their job, if this is what They had to do to make sure they were able to finish twd, then it's what they had to do. They could have just closed up shop and left their customers with nothing.

TheCommentator23d ago

"They could have just closed up shop and left their customers with nothing."

That sounds like a breach of contract for people who paid for the full game in advance.

Legion2123d ago

They didn't fire people to make the walking dead, the walking dead was not the only project they had in development, their employees would have been spread across several different projects.

Gwiz24d ago

The apologist in you is pretty dark lol,I'm not a fan of the series but i'm not gonna assume that some workforce was doing less than others.That's some management BS to save a buck,most likely the studio as a whole is too expensive to maintain and not enough money is coming in.

Dragonscale24d ago

@otaku, true. its called the pareto distribution and is a power-law probability distribution that can be applied to any productive environment not just companies. Jordan Peterson mentions it when discussing marxism and its many flaws.

Chexs199023d ago

Ahhh, Pareto's principle of imbalance ^^
Had to work with that one in my bachelor's report in January. Gotta admit, it's one of the timeless ones :D

CorndogBurglar23d ago

He didn't explain it right, though. At least, his original comment is contradicts it, I should say.

He stated that the number of PRODUCTIVE employees is the square root of the number of employees. Lets just say Telltale had 200 employees. The square root of 200 is 14.14. Lets just call it 14. That means that the other 286 employees are NOT productive.

Then he goes on to say that 1/4th of employees handle 50% of the workload of a company. 1/4th of 200 is 50. So if only 14 people are productive in a company of 200 employees then it doesn't make sense for the 1/4th to handle 50% of the workload. That would mean 36 of those 50 are also productive employees.

Making statements and giving numbers that don't add up make me feel like he is just spouting out nonsense that he heard and not something that he knows.

When he made the blanket statement of saying that only the square root of the employees are PRODUCTIVE, it throws off the numbers of saying that 1/4th of the employees handle 50% of the workload.

KwietStorm23d ago

Is there some correlation in there or are you leaving us in suspense for a sequel?

kreate23d ago

Sounds like the current state of America.

jdaboss23d ago

that reply was autistic af and has no bearing in real life.

lipton10123d ago

Dude, you’re making excuses. I’d be willing to bet that your company died because of financial mismanagement.

Take some personal responsibility.

lnfiniteLoop23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

@otakuapologist - thing is Telltale terminated thier employment and didnt pay any severance pay... yet are still operating as a profit making company, if the company has no money close it down, complete game or not...

btw: season pass for game has been removed from sale on several platforms...

Cobra95123d ago

Any company that allows 75% of its workforce to underperform severely is destined to fail. I think you pulled those numbers out of a dark smelly place, to bolster some notion that workers are just chattel, to be disposed of at will.

iofhua23d ago

While what you said is true, if Telltale told their employees they had a severance package, Telltale is obligated to honor the severance package. I smell a lawsuit, and it would be justified in this case.

+ Show (10) more repliesLast reply 23d ago
dumahim24d ago

Of course they're going to say that. They'd rather have the employees get severance rather than customers getting a game they already paid for.

PapaBop24d ago

Do you even realise these former employees have families to provide for?

Christopher23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

Having mouths to feed doesn't mean you get severance pay. Most people who get fired or laid off don't get severance.

Additionally, the only way this is continuing is through outside money, not profit or internal funds. It's likely from people who own the IP and licensed it to the company and they are funding it just to continue the work on their IP, not anything else. So, why should outside money used to maintain the IP go to severance, it wasn't money the company earned or money aimed at paying people but ensuring the survivability of the IP only.

I get people lost jobs, but this is no different than 99% of the rest of the jobs that people lose. Do people think the 2,000 people who lost jobs from AT&T got severance packages? No, they didn't. And the only reason those people lost their jobs was so AT&T could look better on paper, not for any other reason (they made profit).

This is the world of capitalism we live in. People confused that this is how it works need to face reality. You can't benefit from it one day and then complain about it the next. If you don't want to live in a capitalist market, then change it.

ginganinja23d ago

@Christopher
I wonder how the US works sometimes when it seems fine to treat your general workforce like sh** and it's just accepted. Here in the UK if your job is no longer available to you through no fault of your own, you're entitled to redundancy (severance pay) even if the company goes bankrupt (into administration).

Christopher23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

***I wonder how the US works sometimes when it seems fine to treat your general workforce like sh** and it's just accepted. Here in the UK if your job is no longer available to you through no fault of your own, you're entitled to redundancy (severance pay) even if the company goes bankrupt (into administration).***

Which is why I said: "This is the world of capitalism we live in. People confused that this is how it works need to face reality. You can't benefit from it one day and then complain about it the next. If you don't want to live in a capitalist market, then change it."

Fact is, I don't agree with these policies, but I'm not ignorant enough to understand how the real world works. Complaining about it only when it adversely affects you doesn't change anything. If you want to see change, you need to live it each day and act for it. The wife and I are heavy promoters of unions in our state, she even worked for a company that was aimed at providing services for unions, I do pro-bono work for them. But if she gets laid off, we're not going to complain about the lack of severance pay. I know how it works (I'm a contractor, she's an at will employee), and it's not changed yet. If people didn't care about it for the hundreds of thousands of jobs that people lose every year, they're not going to care about it for the 200+ here.

As far as developers, I really hope this encourages more and more people to get behind unionizing writers, artists, and coders into their own unions within the industry. Until that happens, this will continue to be what will happen and whining about it after it happens to you won't suddenly change it. It needs to be something you live every day.

https://twitter.com/gamewor...

ShadowWolf71223d ago

@Christopher

lmao no, that is not "the world of capitalism we live in" as there are plenty of "Capitalist" companies who still give their employees severance pay.

Real cute stab at economics tho.

Christopher23d ago

***lmao no, that is not "the world of capitalism we live in" as there are plenty of "Capitalist" companies who still give their employees severance pay. ***

Most do not. You can laugh this off, but your ignorance only leads to this continuing to be a problem.

dumahim23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

Yep and it sucks and I feel bad that it happened to them. I'm only pointing out how obvious it is that a pro-videogame union group called Game Workers Unite would say something like this. In other news, water is wet.

edit: Also, this is a company that is going under. Don't you think if a company was in a position to offer a meaningful severance package to 200+ people, they would have been able to keep enough employed to finish Walking Dead on their own? Money doesn't come out of nowhere, even for businesses.
It seems they're doing what they can to complete their obligation to Netflix and trying to find a way to get The Walking Dead completed with help from others. They could have just shut the doors and kicked everyone out and say they're done and file for bankruptcy and left everyone hanging, but they haven't. Some of the laid off people will have a rough time for a bit, but they'll find new work and carry on.

rainslacker23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

Not getting severance is more common than getting it. Particularly true of contract employees, which makes up the bulk of most gaming studios.

@Ginga

The UK, and EU in general give a lot of power to the employee. The US doesn't give anywhere near as much. Even the good companies in the US don't typically give the same benefits that seem commonplace in the EU.

There are times where I think there is too much benefit given to the employee though. I managed a workplace in the Netherlands for a while, and I sent home someone who was being a pain in the ass, and then I was told we still had to pay him for the day. I was incredulous that an employee can pretty much do what they want, and it takes a pretty big extreme to be able to let them go and not have to pay them.

Seraphim23d ago

@ginganinja
that's the thing. here in the US employees are completely expendable. About the only protection we get is FMLA. Essentially allowing us to take 3 months leave for medical issues. Other than that, yeah, we're expendable and companies don't give two craps about the people who make the company run. Granted there are certainly exceptions but for the most part the US and it's legislation could learn A LOT from European countries regarding workers rights and protections.

PapaBop23d ago

@Christopher What are you waffling on about? Telltale higher ups are clearly trying to profit from this while simultaneously screwing over their own former employees but this is morally acceptable because capitalism?

Cobra95123d ago

Christopher, you're assuming that societies that derive their prosperity from capitalism need to adhere to it like Adam Smith's dead hand. That is simply not true. The country provides the infrastructure, the protection and the workable environment for businesses to prosper. It is only fair that the businesses in turn pay back the society in a number of ways, and I don't mean just taxes. Whatever happened to the social contract? Oh, that's right. It was never real. It was just claimed to be. Well, it can be real. That's what I'd like to change, if I could, not a the capitalist market.

Anyway, this company's shameful acts have now landed them in court. A class-action suit has been filed by an ex-employee. Let's see where that goes. I'm rooting for him.

jaymacx23d ago

I would rather take a loss on a game I bought than let hard working employees go without. I hope episodal games cease to exist after this however. Release full games.

+ Show (8) more repliesLast reply 23d ago
LucasRuinedChildhood23d ago

These employees deserve their severance pay. This is actually disgusting. The games industry is rough.

mav80523d ago (Edited 23d ago )

@ginganinja
In the US the employee has plenty of power, and severance pay is something that would be negotiated as part of a contract. If you don't offer enough value to sign a contract, that isn't the companies fault.

Besides, all employers pay payroll taxes that in part are to cover the unemployment pay an employee who loses their job is entitled to. There's a reason why the overwhelming majority of European countries (including the UK) have 2/3 the GDP per capita that the US does. Because of policies like the one you're endorsing.

For all anyone knows, Telltale kept those employees for as long as they could. Would the employees have been better off if they were fired two months ago with 'severence pay?' Unlikely.

@rainslacker
Actually, you have it backwards. The EU and the UK take power from the employee by dictating the terms of their employment to the employer. As a result, the employee cannot make those decisions for themself, and cannot decide what type of employment or benefits most appropriately fulfill their needs.

rainslacker23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

While I think you are right about t hey shjould be given it, mainly because they could have let their employees know about the closure with enough lead time otherwise since you don't just decide one day to shut down. The truth is is that severance is not actually a right afforded in the US. Apparently there are laws saying notice need be given if the lay off are over a certain amount, but the current lawsuit will probably go nowhere, because by the time it ever goes to court, even preliminary hearings, the company will already be liquidated and there won't be anyone left to sue. In cases like this, the investors will be paid, maybe some execs, although there are laws about that, but the staff has to jump through hoops to get any compensation.

The big question the courts have to decide is if TT is responsible for.paying these employees, and there is apparently legislation for the number of people you can lay off at one time.

Sadly a class action lawsuit will benefit the lawyers more than those being represented, and I'm not sure if it really will.mean much to continue on with a case for a defunct compamy

@mav

I.hadnt considered it from that perspective. But in comparison the US isn't much better for most jobs. There is this false premise that the employees have some say, but in most states, they really have little rights. Most rights revolve around preventing harassment, and making sure that any due compensation is paid, along with things like disability or medical leave type stuff.

So while I see it from your perspective, it does still seem like there is more emotes protection in the eu, which I think can be a fair trade off compared to here.

I suppose on things like this though, it's probably more a matter of perspective on ones current situation. For instance, a part time hourly worker is going to have a different view than a full time well paid executive.

In practice though, it seems laws like this most protect the lazy, while good workers tend to just do good work and not worry about things to much.

Not that I really wish to go too off topic on that stuff now though

The_Sage23d ago

It seems people here have never heard of unemployment. I was let go from my company do to downsizing, and that's what you do next. You go on unemployment while you look for another job. The job I have now is a better job that pays better. If I get let go from here I will once again go on unemployment while I look for another job.

To many entitled people in the world today.

rainslacker23d ago

I would wager a lot of their employees were contract employees which typically aren't eligible for unemployment. Unemployment in most states is paid from an insurance fund that the employer pays directly to the state. Companies don't typically pay this on contract labor.

The_Sage23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

My wife owns a small business. She does have contract employees. Admittedly I don't know about other states, but in Illinois she has to carry unemployment insurance on all of her employees, even those that are contracted.

ShadowWolf71224d ago

lmao well when you got nothing to lose I guess walking right into one last PR nightmare won't hurt

Jeebus though.

esmittystud10124d ago ShowReplies(1)
Garrett_the_GOD24d ago

In a way I do agree with them,because their employees definitely need to be compensated for their work but at the sametime what about all the people who already paid for the final season of The Walking Dead??Telltale gotta make it right with both their ex-employees and them gamers who have supported them...they shouldve never let themselves get in this situation in the first place

Darkegg23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

I'm assuming each employee makes 50k and there is 200 employees. That's 10 million they had to sell before they break even. That's a load of wads! Not to mention licensing fee.

To me, how did they even scale up to 200 employees. I would of imagine proof of concept with a small team first before going all out. Heck even a team of 50 then see what can be pumped out. 200.. can u imagine the clash between employees? I can't. Then u will need HR to resolve disputes which is more money...

I would say this is a great example where knowing your employer first with their portfolio and management team and ESTABLISHED product line and sales. Then know what role u will play to expedite the product. Also, I don't envy this industry due to instability as an employee. I can't imagine having kids with insecure jobs.

Btw, square root of 200 is between 14-15. The OP is saying 7 of 100 people are productive which is rather extreme. But I am wondering why they need 200 ppl.. it's hard to comprehend what each person is doing. If I takes that much to make CG images.. there definitely should of been proof of concept with sales at a smaller scale before going 200 employees. Too much risk and too many unknowns. Especially when this game doesn't have gameplay.. ppl could easily YouTube the storyline. It's more like an animated comic strip to who which I do question what the heck their mission was releasing it as a game. Different is good but in this case I'm not sure what this difference is.. esp compared to the less resource medium of comic book TT hat may deliver the same experience.

I wanted to respond mainly to your last comment. You are right that employees and gneed have to be done right. I would say that rest on the CFO and management team or the director. But it also begs the question of not making outside parties involved in that solution. But if somebody is disproportionately getting that pie while the little guys suffers.. yes that's wrong. They need to have transparency instead of hiding behind corporate shield. Be like Jonathan Blow.. give us the damn numbers and let us be the judge.

rainslacker23d ago

I honestly think they grew too fast, and never scaled back to something more appropriate. May be not enough contract labor for slower times. Coupled with slower sales and a few duds in their releases makes for a company that was bleeding money.

For the most part, games like theirs could be made with about 50 or so people. Maybe have another 20 to 30 for office administration and handling their publishing stuff. Then just have temporary contract workers for times when they had more work to take care of.

rainslacker23d ago

I dont think the two things should be mutually exclusive. Being mad they're finishing the game, but not paying severance or giving notice really don't seem to be correlative actions. They kept the number of people they need to close up shop, and I guess it doesn't require those 200.People to finish twd.

Those people left may not even be development staff, as I heard they're outsourcing the completion of the game. This leads me to believe that it's the producer of the game, who is maybe independent of TT, is providing the funding to make that happen, and it's only through that that what's leftover to finish the game remains. The rest of anyone remaining is probably some executives managing their exit from business.