Telltale Games Reviews | Glassdoor

Telltale Games Reviews

Updated April 15, 2018
76 reviews

Filter

Filter

Full-timePart-time

2.7
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Telltale Games CEO Pete Hawley
Pete Hawley
6 Ratings

76 Employee Reviews

Sort: PopularRatingDate

Pros
  • Some extremely talented people to learn from (in 8 reviews)

  • Unlimited PTO is nice, benefits are okay (in 6 reviews)

Cons
  • Pay is terribly low for a studio based in the Bay Area or North Bay (in 8 reviews)

  • Last minute rewrites cause those at the back end of the pipeline to work overtime on a regular basis (in 7 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Good place to grow career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great IPs, good benefits, projects are cool, allowed to actually be creative, come up with ideas that actually get implemented in game.

    Cons

    Employees can bring dogs in to work and I'm allergic.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Good and Bad"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Talented story tellers
    Brand loyalty and awareness
    Best Cinematic artists in game industry

    Cons

    Underpay staff
    Inability of senior staff to trust developers

    Advice to Management

    Smaller company, better pay, higher quality, and don’t just say you trust your staff; trust your staff.

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Quality Assurance Analyst"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Quality Assurance Analyst in San Rafael, CA
    Former Employee - Quality Assurance Analyst in San Rafael, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Telltale Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Food was provided for employees whom opted to work overtime
    Company events were really enjoyable
    Dog friendly work environment
    Ability to customize desk to personal preference

    Cons

    - Really long hours (longest shift was 20 hours) -
    Overtime was never required but since most of the team were contract workers it was implied that you needed to stay

    -Toxic Upper Management
    Angry outbursts and extremely long hours coupled with high expectations created a harsh work environment that drove many to the breaking point. Specifically, my immediate manager resigned due to the pressure and deadlines that were placed upon him.
    Promises to offer permanent employment to make sure that production and efficiency rates stayed high , but with no follow up or concrete plan to permanence.

    - Unprofessional behavior
    Specifically, upon project completion bonuses were delivered to permanent employees right in front of contract workers, who did the same work on the same project, and were thanked for their hard work. Honestly, just a huge oversight by management to think that was acceptable

    - Poor project execution , budgeting and management
    In relation to the Quality Assurance Department, the issues that would be reported would sit on the developers for weeks before being addressed due to the constant workload placed upon the multiple departments.

    Advice to Management

    Offer a structured path to permanent opportunities or be clear with what is available. Allow rest periods after crunch time for employees to recuperate and recover. Be more proactive in addressing the needs of the Quality Assurance department so that over departments do not dump work a few days before the dead line which lead to long hours. Hire management that is focused on the people AND the results, not one or the other. Fair treatment for contract workers and on board employees.


  4. Helpful (2)

    "Expect indifference, not growth"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Telltale Games full-time

    Pros

    Good content.
    Lots of work to be done.
    Guaranteed t-shirts.

    Cons

    The other posts reflect enough of my experience, so I'll just say this:

    If you can see how the following might be offensive to someone who was just laid off by this person, then you might want to reconsider working here:

    "Unfortunately that came down to a layoff of 25 percent of our workforce, but now we’re down to our best bets, our best games, and our BEST PEOPLE." (emphasis added)

    - Pete Hawley, CEO (article from VentureBeat)

    That indifference to the basic dignity of employees was there before Pete got there, so it seems it's not going away anytime soon. Just a fair warning: Don't be surprised if your experience ends up feeling rather cold and unfulfilling.

    Also see the "Toxic Management..." article at the Verge, which kindly reverses the "best people" narrative to be in favor of the employees who were burnt out and laid off.

    Advice to Management

    Spend less money on parties and more money on your employees' salaries and training.


  5. Helpful (6)

    "Do NOT work here"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Telltale Games full-time

    Pros

    Telltale might be a nice place to work in three years, if it still exists and that’s a pretty big IF.

    Cons

    There really is no good reason to work here, unless you're desperate and can't find another job in video games.

    Telltale fatigue in the market place is real and the company doesn’t have a new direction yet. If you choose to work here, you risk damaging your reputation and putting yourself through a lot of drama over low-performing games.

    I want to echo some of the criticisms others have had about the studio and add a few of my own: Radio-active toxic politics, tribalism, poor creative development process, stunted innovation and technological advancement, no original IP, high creative churn, low pay for the industry and area, inexperienced managers, disrespectful coworkers, declining quality caused by a dearth of creative leadership, and a very uncertain future all make Telltale a hard pass in terms of employment prospects.

    There are some exceptionally nice, talented and collaborative people here. That's not the problem. The problem is that they're not supported by studio management. Their empathy for others and willingness to collaborate and take and give feedback are looked down upon and seen as weaknesses by a culture that takes its cues from toxic Hollywood.

    In order to advance here, you'll have to adapt some pretty rotten behaviors. It's almost like a 'Swimming with Sharks' hazing ritual, where leadership material is measured by you're willingness and ability to intimidate and sabotage others.

    So, for every collaborative, non-toxic employee, there's three who will make your life miserable if they get the chance and they will probably be managing you in some capacity. For most of them, Telltale may have been the only place they've ever worked. They learned how to act from the former CEO and literally do not know better. For others, they are damage goods from other studios who were able to get a job here, because Telltale does not do background checks.

    Studio managers keep saying they're going to change things for the better, but because they're unwilling to discipline some of these bad practices, little progress has been made.

    Come on, guys. The former CEO has been gone for over a year now. There's no excuse to promote this kind of behavior anymore. If you're still acting this way at this point, that's completely your choice.

    Advice to Management

    I'm addressing this directly to the new CEO: Don't know if you're here to truly turn the company around or sell it, but I'm going to pretend its the former. I know you're fairly new and still learning about Telltale and the people who are running things. Don't trust them. They either have no idea what they're doing or they're pulling the wool over your eyes so they can hide their own incompetence and unprofessionalism.

    Do some of your own digging and find out how Telltale got to this point for yourself. It wasn’t all the prior CEO’s fault. He certainly set the tone, but some people inside the studio STILL shuffle down and imitate his abusive behavior. You need to have a zero-tolerance policy about employees being verbally hostile or disrespectful to their coworkers, especially if they're placed in management positions.

    Also, if you want to stop bleeding employees, make sure they feel appreciated. One way to drive them out is to continually make bad staffing decisions that disenfranchise people of their hard work and hopes of promotion. Telltale should not be a place where plebs do the work for a small in-crowd to get credit for, but it is.

    You still have some really good people here. Don't lose them too.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Going to be a nice place to work in 3 years"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    - Great people to work with for the most part
    - Unlimited PTO

    Cons

    - Lots of creative churn
    - Company still trying to find out direction its going, going to take a bit to get that right


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to get experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time

    Pros

    Great team, people, talent. Projects are very cool and will add value to resume.

    Cons

    Stuck to an ancient game technology that limits talent and quality of art and gaming experience

    Advice to Management

    Move on to a mainstream technology like Unreal 4 or Unity instead of spending resources patching up the limitations of the old engine.

  8. Helpful (12)

    "Sinking Ship, Toxic Politics Killing Studio"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    -Lots of talented and fun people work(ed) here. Telltale was a real community before the layoffs.

    - Great first job for recent graduates. Telltale runs on young, cheap blood, so it's very easy to get a job here with zero or little experience.

    -You will ship games and if you play your politics right, you can have immense influence over the games you're making.

    -Great IPs for the resume.

    -World-class HR department that's actually trying to change things for the better.

    -Decent benefits.

    -Tech and production pipelines will improve with restructuring

    -Telltale is a place of extremes. A place of bright light and deep darkness. Depending on who you're working with or what project you're on, this place can be either Heaven or Hell. You'll see a lot of well-deserved criticism in the 'Cons' section, but I want to also emphasize there are a lot of really incredible people who work here and are fighting the good fight to make the culture better. Unfortunately, it is a *fight* and if you decide to work here and aren't aware of the treacherous political landscape you're walking into, you could easily become a causality of it.

    Cons

    -Telltale never learned that choices mattered, not in its design ethos or in business practices. The result is a studio in steep decline that's been left in the dust by a slew of more innovative narrative studios...

    -Telltale just underwent massive layoffs. It's a sinking ship and people are leaving in droves. I would urge anyone who is considering working here to go online and check out the sales estimates on VGChartz, Steam Spy, App Annie, etc. and ask yourself if the revenue is anywhere close to sustaining a large, nearly 300 person studio.

    -Layoffs = Less Projects, which means bigger teams, more in-fighting and drama, less opportunity for advancement and less shipped titles.

    -Quality has been on the decline. Metacritic scores now average in the 60s and low 70s. Eeek! Project leadership pats itself on the back for their low market and critical performance and actively makes fun of other narrative gaming studios who are actually selling games and getting awards. This lack of self-awareness, hubris and unearned arrogance has hurt the studio's competitiveness.

    -Product development is schizophrenic and no one's even heard the term 'big data.' There’s very little understanding of the market, who they're making games for and the IPs they should be picking or what ESRB rating they should be targeting in order to reach the biggest audience.

    -No original IP or the creative leadership to develop it. This is NOT the same studio of The Walking Dead Season One or The Wolf Among Us. The creative forces behind those games are long gone. Why? The former CEO was too involved in the creative process and drove out top-talent and created a toxic culture of ‘every-man-for-himself’ political survival over people and product. After he left, the culture he left in place never changed.

    -All the horror stories on Glassdoor are true. Telltale suffers from a toxic high-school culture and the lay-offs haven't changed that. In fact, they've only reinforced it. This culture has been strangling the quality of the games and the productivity of its immensely talented teams for years. It's an immature hierarchical culture of insecurity, egoism, exclusion, favoritism, nepotism, and delusional echo-chambers. It's a culture that rewards cut-throat, unprofessional behavior, bullying, name-calling, sexism, agism, lying, resistance to change and innovation, refusal to learn from its mistakes, and burning-out or wasting the creative resources made available to them.

    -Management is dishonest and manipulative, has no concept of how their teams work, and will spread gossip about you behind your back.

    -Got experience? Keep on walking. The pay is terribly low and, with a few exceptions, inexperienced creatives run the show and openly shut out (and even mock) any experienced professional the company tries to hire. Management is either unwilling or unable to correct this behavior. The waste of recruitment efforts and general studio resources is truly stunning. Again, this isn't everyone... but this behavior is pervasive enough to give pros serious pause before taking any job here.

    -There’s a disturbing lack of diversity in the office. You’ll be pressed to find a face that isn’t white. Teams can be a bit tribal, where employees tend to only want to work with and/or support people who are the same age, gender, come from similar privileged backgrounds and hang out with them outside of work socially. It’s not explicit discrimination, but it is implicit, which is much harder to combat.

    -Chore artists are treated like garbage. Last minute rewrites cause those at the back end of the pipeline to work overtime on a regular basis. This was really bad under the previous CEO, and has only improved slightly since his departure. A lot of good chore artists, who gave the company all their weekends and made huge personal and financial sacrifices to ship games, were thrown away in the last layoff like trash. They suffered for the mistakes of many of the managers who are still running the show.

    -Not a great place to learn actual game development. Many of the skills you learn here, particularly in engineering and chore, will not be applicable in other studios.

    -There’s very little cross-discipline collaboration, which has compounded the studio’s lack of innovation. There are signs of this changing, which is hopeful.

    Advice to Management

    So, here's my sincere advice to the management, old and new. New narrative video game studios rife with experienced, mature talent are coming up across the world right now. Telltale has already lost its place as a critically-acclaimed story first studio. If you really want to regain that status, listen to the people who are trying to change things for the better. Don’t punish people for calling mismanagement out and stop rewarding people for abusing their power.

    Take a look at your own favoritism and be honest with yourself about how its effecting your teams and the bottom-line.

    Leadership training isn't working. Many of the people you've shoved into those meetings openly reject the leadership and management principles they're being presented with. Think about restaffing project leadership with seasoned professionals with a proven track record of leadership, innovation, quality, AND the desire to mentor others. You're going to have to pay them for their experience and support them when they come on. But it might be a worthwhile last ditch effort.

    Look at the people who exhibit negative behaviors on a consistent basis and hold them to account. Sanction them if you have to. But stop rewarding them! Behaviors to look for: Leads who prevent subordinates from becoming contributing members of the team, withholding assignments, leaving them out of critical meetings, taking credit for their ideas and work, lying about or minimizing their contributions, throwing them under the bus for their own decisions or lack of direction, showing favoritism to friends and creating double-standards to block others, and refusing to give constructive criticism in a timely, professional manner. These are all insecure tactics used by inexperienced professionals with a bad case of imposter's syndrome. These are not leaders or the people who are going to save your studio. They simply feel threatened by other talent and want to paint the narrative that they (and their friends) are the only ones who can ship product. This is complete bullocks. You will never be able to retain quality talent if that's the way you want to run things.

    Open your eyes and stop letting the lunatics run the asylum and waste your resources! Look at the Metacritic scores! This is the main reason way they're so low. Hire some grown-ups and give them the power to right the ship before it hits another iceberg!


  9. "Fun, but Flawed"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Telltale Games full-time

    Pros

    I regularly worked with great people in great teams on the ground floor. Most people cared about doing the best they could, even when held back by constraints.

    Cons

    Too much, too fast, not enough forethought.


  10. "Incredible and Unique Experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    It's super fun to be able to associate with kind workers that are creative and willing to help me with any given task.

    Cons

    It may get a bit tiring after a while and the pacing of the work environment should slow down, which is their main goal right now.


Showing 76 of 78 reviews
Reset Filters