Dec 16 2013

Why Telltale Might Be The “Go-to” Developer for Popular IP Spinoffs

Published by at 10:00 am under Editorials,Video Games

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Okay, I’ll be honest with you guys right now. I’ve only heard of Telltale because of The Walking Dead and Paul was pretty much the guy who made me want to play it. Anyway, Telltale Games have been pretty serious with expanding lately if you keep up with the news. They recently released the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, a game based on the popular comic book series by Bill Willingham. In addition, they also revealed their upcoming projects which will expand on video game franchise Borderlands and the novel/TV behemoth Game of Thrones. 

While the developer has worked with other IPs in the past like Jurassic Park, Sam and Max and Back to the Future using the same format and style they employ now, I think The Walking Dead was the game that acted as their tipping point to greener pastures. It was also the game that made them known as “the” appealing developer to expand an IP in a meaningful and profitable way.

We’ve seen all the horrible video game adaptations of TV shows, novels, and movies that studios force on us to capitalize on the gaming market. However, the recent acquisition of several popular IPs might just show that Telltale might just make us excited about video game adaptations again for both consumers and companies alike.

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I recently wrote a list for Gameranx about the various non-gaming IPs that would totally benefit from a Telltale video game adaptation. I wanted to include some video game franchises as well, but my editor was adamant about the fact that two video game companies wouldn’t work with Telltale because they could expand their own universe. Shortly after, Tales from the Borderlands was announced as a joint project between Gearbox and Telltale.

A partnership from those two company works because they specialize in contrasting genres. I don’t see them partnering up with other story driven developers like BioWare for example. If Telltale works with another video game studio, they should be complementing each other with their unique capabilities instead of bringing the same stuff to the table.

Now, let’s move on to non-video game properties. First of all, I love Telltale’s episodic structure because it’s easy to digest for a wide variety of  people. Gamers are used to playing game that can be hours or days long and we are also used to spending $60 for it. Others beyond the gaming realm? Forget about it.

I think it’s very cool that these spin-off games are available on iOS and Android mobile devices. We all know that people have short attention spans nowadays and would like games they can play during a quick break or to pass time on the train. The episodes from TWD and TWAU are admittedly longer, but it won’t take you more than ten hours to finish it.

I think that the fact that it’s not a produced with an insane budget and engine that most blockbuster games have helps in getting their games into smartphones and tablets. It pays off because they can expand their consumer base with these platforms and sell it at a fairly reasonable price. Buy the base game for $14.99 or so, then purchase the episodes for $4.99. The total cost might be pricey for some, but you are not obligated to buy them at the same time or even finish it. A lot of other successful mobile games operate this way.

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Hopefully, the people behind The Walking Dead learned about this and just forgot about their foray into triple A video games. *Ehem* The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, *ehem* I am looking at you.

We are not stupid Hollywood! We won’t gobble video game adaptations of popular shows, movies, films, or series just because they exist. We might have before, but the frighteningly consistent awful track record have made gamers wary. So, perhaps going for a triple A developer isn’t the way to go anymore. Pick a developer who is dedicated to storytelling so these IPs translate well into video games. At the same time, there are economic benefits that can spawn from this direction.

The power isn’t in Telltale itself, it’s in the structure and the execution. Truthfully, any other developer can do what they can do if they just play their cards right like what Telltale did. However, I think we’ll only have them for quite a while and I am foreseeing more amazings IPs to come. Let’s just hope that they don’t get burned out.





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One response so far

  • http://nickverboon.wordpress.com/ Nick Verboon

    In Hollywood’s defense (can’t believe I’m saying that combination of words), some of us are pretty stupid. Stupid enough to keep buying crappy video game tie-in products, anyways. Not me or you, but somebody must be or they’d stop making the damn things.

    At this point, I’m kind of concerned that Telltale could burn themselves out or spread themselves too thin. I’m excited about all of these things, but so many projects at once could step on each others’ toes and pull the attentions of their best writers in too many directions at once. I hope they can keep the quality up and space the episodes apart well enough to keep the quality and freshness of the format intact.

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