Should Microsoft or THQ Nordic Buy Telltale Games?

Should Microsoft or THQ Nordic Buy Telltale Games?

I was nothing short of surprised when I read through the headlines indicating that Telltale Games was facing layoffs. Not only that, other reports have indicated that a full closure of the studio is on the horizon. The news comes as a shock to many, what with the laundry list of titles under Telltale’s belt. Many of these have gone on to win awards, and many became extensions of the universe that they represent.

The video game industry does a pretty good job reminding its fans that nothing is future proof. There’s never a company or franchise that is going to be around forever (except maybe Super Mario). Studios close, main characters are forgotten about, and oftentimes we move on to the next best thing. But, there may be some saving grace for companies like Telltale Games that deserve a second chance, particularly due to the rich narratives and experiences they’ve crafted in the past.

Why should Microsoft buy them?

As I sat in the audience during the Microsoft press conference, I was waiting for Phil Spencer to announce that Telltale Games would be added to the growing roster of studios acquired as he continued name drop each new addition. That moment never came, though. But if a studio like Telltale is going to shut down, rumors of down-sizing were probably already surfacing even back then. This could be a really good thing for a few reasons.

Microsoft having Telltale Games under its belt only gives the studio more development power. Minecraft: Story Mode once again created a narrative experience that acted as an extension to the Minecraft universe. There are so many other Microsoft owned properties that could easily become adapted to the Telltale model. Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, or even the Halo universe could benefit from having their stories told from a different perspective. Telltale may lose some freedom on what properties it works with, such as Warner Bros.’ featured content. But it may also help them pursue new properties, using Microsoft as a vessel to get there.

Telltale Games
Here are just “some” of the THQ Nordic owned and published titles.

Why should THQ Nordic buy them?

While Microsoft seems like a good fit to carry the torch, THQ Nordic might also have a dog in this fight. The THQ name all but disappeared from the gaming industry in December 2012. The publisher had liquidated its assets, including some of the IP and studios it was associated with (Deep Silver).

But the THQ brand has been on the resurgence in recent years. The publisher now goes by THQ Nordic and is a hodge-podge of development studios. It recently became the proud owner of the Timesplitters franchise and, as of a few days ago, now owns the rights to Alone in the Dark from Atari Europe. Instead of heavily relying on multiple big, AAA studios, they have instead opted for recognizable IPs, some decades old. A developer like Telltale Games could bring some unique opportunities and provide some unique versatility.

Why buy Telltale Games?

I think it would be a totally different situation if this was any other development studio. There’s something important about narratively-driven, decision-based story games. They solicit a certain amount of investment from the player, but they also create a sense of feeling or attachment to their characters.


Anyone who’s played The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series knows this all too well. Having mainline characters live or die at the hand of the person who holds the controller is something you don’t always get to experience. While this isn’t exactly new, it does stand as a testament to the narrative experiences the studio has been able to produce. It leaves the people behind these games with the opportunity to continue doing what they’re best at.

Buy ’em low, sell ’em high

The one big thing that could benefit Telltale Games in an acquisition is the possibility that their value will rise. I don’t mean that in terms of production, but mostly in the monetary sense. Take Minecraft for example. Prior to being a Microsoft property, the game was relatively well-known and had a decent reach. Now, the IP has grown to have Microsoft Store exclusives, books, and toys. This could be a huge benefit for a company that is currently going through layoffs, building them back up again. And again, it would give them the purchasing power of the much larger entity now governing its moves.

Telltale Games 1
Star Wars X Minecraft X Telltale? Maybe.

Telltale Games isn’t your run of the mill development studio. The team there has essentially perfected and evolved the point-and-click genre into something bigger than itself. But with years of history and development, there’s undoubtedly some baggage that comes with the territory.

It would be great if they could continue building these experiences for new generations to come. But, the gods of the industry might instead have a different ending in mind for this tale.

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  • gregbargas

    A console gamer gone rogue. Collector of retro games, pun and dad joke enthusiast. My spotify playlists are out of control. Rocket League anyone?Twitter: enthusiast_greg

    • andrewsqual

      Lol how would that help future games be sellers in any way or fix any of the problems of having to let go most of their staff already? And to pretend that Minecraft wasn’t big before Microsoft bought it is ludicrous. If anything, Minecraft went down massively in popularity after being purchased or certainly never hit any higher statures since.

      • bigevilworldwide

        Nobody is going to want Telltale…They don’t have anything of value…The over saturated the market with their point and click episodic stories, they spread themselves wwwayyyy too thin pumping out episode after episode of multiple games at one time…At the end of the day they may tell a good story, but they literally have NOTHING of value to offer any company….Its the problem you run into when your really a 1 trick pony studio that doesn’t own anything and the 1 trick you have is dependent on IP holders wanting a story told in that style….
        Im more surprised that nobody has been talking about refunds for TWD season 3 considering its cancelled, if the studio is shutting down how exactly are people supposed to get their money back, cause it sure as hell ain’t MS, Sony or Nintendo’s problem they shouldn’t be giving refunds on some other studios game….

        • daflumpdude

          you piece of fucking shit, telltale is worth more than you think not just in money but for gamers. if you were actually part of the gaming community you would know that its more than many so GO FUCK YOURSELF

      • TheUltimateTruth

        75 million monthly active players and 144 million copies sold

        Poor Andrew getting demolished on a daily basis, what else is new?

    • Fel Martins

      Why? I get you outlined that they created story-driven games but the company as it is right now is just a skeleton crew, around to finish whatever projects they haven’t abandoned and then they’re done. The people who created those stories, the value you place in TellTale, they’ve long since left. If you want to buy talent TellTale, as it is right now, isn’t a good investment. Why not just create a new studio? It’s not like TellTale has any IPs worth purchasing.

      • Alberto Vázquez Paredes

        The value is not in the people who created the games it´s in the licenses of those games man

        • Alberto Vázquez Paredes

          It´s a great investment, the same as it was buying the studio that posessed The Darksiders license, THQ has develop the third game with the raider Fury by themselves

    • Kryptonite42O

      All I wanted was another season of The Wolf Among Us….

      • Greg Bargas

        Probably my favorite game from them. I would even choose that over TWD.

        • Kryptonite42O

          Yep. It was by far their best series. So good.

          • Alberto Vázquez Paredes

            Indeed. We need The wolf among us season 2. What happended with the Mermaid after season one? Is the Beast now the new Sheriff? Will we have Goldilocks on season 2? will we finally see The Farm?

      • Alberto Vázquez Paredes

        Yes! We need The wolf among us season 2. What happended with the Mermaid after season one? Is the Beast now the new Sheriff?

    • wolfsrain

      One observation to this article: THQ and THQ Nordic are not the same company. THQ went down quite a few years ago and its assests were sold so the creditors would get some of their money back.

      The brand was bought by Nordic Games, which used it in combination with part of their name to create THQ Nordic.If anything, Nordic aquired a reputation of a scavenger. Not necessarily a bad thing, as they buy recognizable franchises really cheap and give those IP’s new life. But they rarely invest high amounts of money. Their biggest deal to date was the aquisition of Koch Media (Deep Silver) and a deal that definitely worth their money.

      Telltale, on the other hand presents no attraction for anyone (be it MS or Nordic). The human resource is gone and Telltale owns none of the IP’s on which they’ve worked. So what would attract someone to invest into an empty shell?! The devs can be poached a lot cheaper now that they are unemployed, there is no IP’s, the game engine made by Telltale is known for its problems…Even worse, the games developed by Telltale will soon become history and unavailable for sale. I doubt that the IP owners will let them to be sold, once the bankruptcy process starts. And i am pretty sure that the legal teams of everyone involved with Telltale now are working hard to find solutions so their IP’s won’t be dragged in the bankruptcy process and legal battles. The only asset that Telltale had were the devs. Once those are gone…There is no bloody reason to save anything.

      I’ve expected a better understanding of how the industry works from someone that is connected with a gaming site and it was disappointing to see that the author basically had no idea about the business and legal aspects. May i suggest a better documentation in the future articles?!

    • Alberto Vázquez Paredes

      We need The wolf among us season 2 game