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Telltale's treatment of staff "a problem endemic in the industry"

Pro-union group Game Workers Unite lambasts Telltale for cutting staff with no severance pay or healthcare

The pro-union organisation Game Workers Unite has categorised the treatment of laid off staff at Telltale as, "a problem endemic in the industry."

In a post on its website, Game Workers Unite criticised Telltale for leaving a reported 225 people in the position of being, "denied pay and healthcare without notice or severance, left vulnerable in an area with an extremely high cost of living." It also added that, "some of those workers were just recently hired."

These claims are consistent with reports - mostly on Twitter - from members of staff who were affected by extensive layoffs at the studio last week.

Character artist Brandon Cebenka said, "None of my sleepless nights or long hours on weekends trying to ship a game on time got me severance today. Don't work overtime unless you're paid for it, y'all... Companies don't care about you."

"None of my sleepless nights or long hours on weekends trying to ship a game on time got me severance today"

Former Telltale artist Brandon Cebenka

Narrative designer Emily Grace Buck offered even more detail, suggesting that the actual number of layoffs was closer to 250 people, and reiterating that there was no severance pay, or healthcare beyond a single week. She supported the claim that some employees had started "as recently as a week ago", with at least one having "relocated cross country."

"Due to the insanely high cost of living in the Bay Area relative to payscale, many of my... colleagues were living paycheck to paycheck and do not know what they are going to do to make ends meet this month," she added.

Game Workers Unite, which was established to further the cause of unionising the games industry, described Telltale's executives as "incompetent" and "exploitative" based on the nature of the studio's decline and its treatment of the workforce. It also referenced an article from The Verge in March this year, which painted a troubling picture of the studio's internal culture.

"This problem is not isolated to only Telltale or the executives there - this is a problem that we see time and time again throughout the industry; and we will continue to see as long as management is able to take advantage of workers," the statement read.

"Just within the past month we've seen three major studio closures. The system for creating games is broken, and it will result in the collapse of many other beloved studios in the future."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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