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Former Telltale CEO sues developer over alleged breach of contract

Kevin Bruner claims Telltale failed to fulfil its obligations to him after he stepped down in 2017

Telltale Games co-founder and former CEO Kevin Bruner is suing the company for alleged breach of contact after he stepped down in March 2017.

Bruner, who helped launch the company in 2004, was appointed CEO in January 2015 replacing fellow co-founder Dan Connors.

Two years later, Bruner announced that he stepping down, saying "the time has come to pass the reins to someone that can better drive Telltale to the next level and realise all the potential that is here."

However, in February of this year, Bruner filed a lawsuit against the San Rafael-based developer which changed the existing narrative.

Bruner claimed that, following investment from Lionshead in 2015, some board members began pushing for changes in Telltale's business model, and were looking to replace him as CEO.

Former CEO Connors took back control on an interim basis -- soon replaced by former Zynga executive Peter Hawley -- while Bruner remained on the board of directors.

The lawsuit says that Telltale was contractually required to provide Bruner with support in selling his holdings, but alleges that company bosses soon cut off communication with him, denying its obligations.

Following a review by the court, confidentiality and financial privacy override the right of public access to case records, and so the filing is heavily redacted.

According to the Marin Independent Journal however, the lawsuit states: "The net effect of Bruner's alleged removal from the board of directors was that Bruner was deprived of relevant insight into the management and financial state of Telltale and the value of its shares."

Telltale lawyers responded that the case was "meritless" and "an apparent means of extracting revenge on a company already under financial strain".

"The company is now working to turn around the decline that it experienced under plaintiff's stewardship," noted the filing from Telltale.

An attempt by Telltale to have the case thrown out was met with resistance from Judge Roy Chernus who ruled that the complaint required further examination.

Bruner has been the centre of controversy in the past after former Telltale employees complained a of a never-ending crunch culture, and accusing him becoming "significantly more abrasive and inflexible" following the success of The Walking Dead games.

"It often felt like we were building games specifically for [Bruner]," said one employee. "We were tailoring the type of content we were building -- not just gameplay mechanics, but tone, the types of characters we chose to use -- to his taste. This was one of the biggest issues with him as a CEO: he was pretty convinced that his taste was everyone's taste."

Bruner's case is set to return to court on July 17.

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Ivy Taylor avatar

Ivy Taylor


Ivy joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.