Telltale Games is an independent digital first publisher and film studio founded in June 2004 as Telltale, Incorporated. Based in San Rafael, California, the studio includes designers formerly employed by LucasArts. Its business model revolves around episodic gaming and digital distribution, and it is best known for its various graphic adventure game series based on popular licensed properties.
Many of the games that have been developed by Telltale Games follow an episodic system. The full game is split into several episodes which are released periodically through a certain timeframe, often up to a year after the initial release. Popular titles by Telltale include game adaptations of the CSI television show, films such as Wallace and Gromit and Back to the Future, well-known comics such as Sam & Max and The Walking Dead, and game licenses like Monkey Island.
Telltale Games was founded by a group of former LucasArts employees who had been working on Sam & Max: Freelance Police, a sequel to the 1993 game Sam & Max Hit the Road, prior to its cancellation on March 3, 2004. In an early press release the vocal public response to said cancellation was cited as a main reason the company was founded. The Telltale Games team has a large collective experience working on LucasArts' famed classics.
On February 11, 2005, the company released their first game — Telltale Texas Hold'em, a poker card game simulator which was intended primarily to test their in-house game engine.[This was followed by two games based on Jeff Smith's Bone comic book series. More episodes were planned, but later aborted. They developed CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder for Ubisoft, and although it was composed of several free-standing episodes, it was released exclusively at retail as a single package. The same is true for the follow ups, CSI: Hard Evidence, CSI: Deadly Intent, and CSI: Fatal Conspiracy.
After securing two rounds of angel investment from San Francisco Bay Area angels including members of angel group Keiretsu Forum, Telltale attempted to buy the rights to complete Sam & Max: Freelance Police from LucasArts, but when they were denied, they secured the rights to create new games from series creator Steve Purcell. Unlike their previous games, Sam & Max: Season One (published in collaboration with GameTap) was their first episodic series released on a tight monthly schedule—a landmark for the game industry. The series proved successful, and Telltale went on to produce two additional Sam & Max seasons. Since then, they have continued to produce series based on popular licenses released in monthly episodes. These have been largely comedic, including games based on Wallace & Gromit and Homestar Runner. Tales of Monkey Island, based on the popular LucasArts series, marks their most successful series to date, owing in part to the history many of its developers had with LucasArts adventure games. Pilot Program
To supplement their normal episodic games, Telltale created a Pilot Program in early 2010 to explore one-off games that would explore other gameplay and storytelling approaches that could eventually be incorporated into their episodic games. The first game, Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent, a puzzle-solving game in collaboration with Graham Annable, was released in the middle of June 2010, while Poker Night at the Inventory, a crossover poker game featuring characters from Sam and Max, Homestar Runner, Valve's Team Fortress 2, and the webcomic Penny Arcade, was released late in 2010. Growth of company and acquisition of popular franchises
In June 2010, Telltale announced that they had secured licences with NBC Universal to develop two episodic series based on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. Further series based on licensed properties were announced in February 2011, including series based on the comic book series The Walking Dead and Fables in association with Warner Bros. Entertainment, and a series based on the King's Quest adventure games by Sierra. In April 2011, Telltale announced another licensed episodic series, based on Law & Order: Los Angeles.
By 2010, Telltale has proven itself successful, with yearly revenues of $10 million, 90% greater than the previous year. Part of this is attributed to Back to the Future: The Game, which Steve Allison, the senior vice president of marketing, called their "most successful franchise to date". Allison states that for most of their games, they only need to sell 100,000 copies to break even, but many of their recent releases have seen twice that number or more; Allison anticipates that The Walking Dead series could be a $20 to $30 million franchise. Telltale expects with the additional licensed franchises, the studio and its revenues will continue to grow at a similar pace, expanding from their current 90 employees to 140.
In 2012, Telltale had its biggest success yet with The Walking Dead, which sold one million copies in 20 days, and topped the sales charts on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam. Due to the success of the first game, Telltale announced a sequel in July 2012.
|Telltale Texas Hold'em||02005-02-11February 11, 2005||1 (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows|
|Bone: Out from Boneville||02005-09-15September 15, 2005||1 (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows|
|CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder||02006-03-21March 21, 2006||5 episodes (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2|
|Bone: The Great Cow Race||02006-04-12April 12, 2006||1 (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows|
|Sam & Max Save the World||02006-10-17October 17, 2006 - April 26, 2007||6 episodes (monthly)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, Wii|
|CSI: Hard Evidence||02007-09-25September 25, 2007||5 episodes (Standalone title)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Wii, Xbox 360|
|Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space||02007-11-08November 8, 2007 - April 10, 2008||5 episodes (monthly)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, Wii, Mac OS X, PlayStation Network, iOS|
|Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People||02008-08-11August 11, 2008 - December 15, 2008||5 episodes (monthly)||WiiWare, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Network, Mac OS X|
|Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures||02009-03-24March 24, 2009 - July 30, 2009||4 episodes (monthly)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS (Episode 2 only)|
|Tales of Monkey Island||02009-07-07July 7, 2009 - December 8, 2009||5 episodes (monthly)||Microsoft Windows, WiiWare, Mac OS X, PlayStation Network, iOS|
|CSI: Deadly Intent||02009-10-20October 20, 2009||5 episodes (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Wii|
|Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse||02010-04-15April 15, 2010 - August 30, 2010||5 episodes (monthly)||iOS (Episode 1 only), Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, PlayStation Network|
|Hector: Badge of Carnage||02010-06-03June 3, 2010 - September 22, 2011||3 episodes||iOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X|
|Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent||02010-06-30June 30, 2010||1 (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, PlayStation Network|
|CSI: Fatal Conspiracy||02010-10-26October 26, 2010||5 episodes (Standalone title)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii|
|Poker Night at the Inventory||02010-11-22November 22, 2010||1 (Standalone title)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows|
|Back to the Future: The Game||02010-12-22December 22, 2010 - June 23, 2011||5 episodes (monthly)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, iOS, Wii|
|Puzzle Agent 2||02011-06-30June 30, 2011||1 (Standalone title)||iOS, Mac, Microsoft Windows|
|Jurassic Park: The Game||02011-11-15November 15, 2011
November 15, 2011 - May 24, 2012
|4 episodes (Standalone title)|
4 episodes (bi-monthly) (iPad)
|Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, iOS, PlayStation Network, Xbox 360|
|Law & Order: Legacies||02011-12-22December 22, 2011 - March 29, 2012||7 episodes (bi-weekly)||iOS, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows|
|The Walking Dead||02012-04-24April 24, 2012 - November 20, 2012||5 episodes (bi-monthly)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, PlayStation Vita, Android, Ouya|
|April 24, 2013||1 (Standalone title)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation Network|
|The Wolf Among Us||October 11, 2013 - present|
October 15, 2013 - present
|5 episodes (bi-monthly)|
5 episodes (bi-monthly) (PSN)
|Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
|The Walking Dead Season Two||December 17, 2013 - present||5 episodes (bi-monthly)||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, PlayStation Vita|