Did Let's Plays add fuel to the closing of Telltale Games?

We apologize for the delays in our usual video. We try to have our community pages hit at midnight, and our news crawl in at noon the following day. With Dreamhack on the way (Yours truly flies out to Atlanta tomorrow - wish us luck!) it's created a few behind the scenes delays.

This topic is an interesting one however. When making your own games, people will of course stream your games. If your title is based fully on story telling and someone sees the whole game themselves, how does this effect you as a developer for the future?

We go over that and some solutions we've read about from the persona series in our newest video. We hope your enjoy, and if you're new here and want to get started in game development - check us out directly on GameDevHQ.com for portfolio building, devlogging, complete education from day one and much more. As always the transcript to the video is listed below if you prefer to not watch or can't.

If you like what you see, give us a subscribe on youtube to keep up to date with more game development related content and tutorials.




Hey everyone, It’s Ryan from GameDevHQ.com. In September we heard of the news regarding telltale games coming to an end. This devastating blow to the telltale series has left a lot of interesting questions, but we had one in particular.

Did Let’s Plays, the beloved youtube genre of watching game playthroughs, add fuel to the fire that led to this? If it did, how do you as a developer prevent this for your own story driven games? Let’s jump in and take a look at what happened.

To give those who aren't aware a brief re-cap, Telltale games ran out of funding to continue their projects. The beloved telltale series simply wasn't selling enough titles to sustain the series. While Pre-orders were responsive, the launch didn't go so well. This eventually led to closure of the team, leaving behind only a skeleton crew to pick up the remaining pieces for the upcoming Walking Dead title.

Soon after, even the skeleton crew was let go. With that caused a surge in interest from other companies, and an entire list can actually be found of all the companies that were willing to hire the crew.

It was beautiful to see so many developers reach out to assist them, and currently the Walking Dead: The Final Season has been picked up to be completed with this outreach. If you want to find out more about the timeline of the telltale games fallout, check the description for more information.

What we look at now, is what could potentially be the cause for such a strong fanbase and yet a lack of sales? We wonder if It’s let’s plays.

All over youtube and twitch, influencers love to show off their skills in gaming. It’s really common to find complete total playthroughs of a game on youtube.

People often reference these to find out how to get past something, to enjoy the personality introducing the title, or even to simply check out the story behind the game and sit back like it’s a movie.

I’ve done this myself for The Last of Us, and it was absolutely addicting. For the Telltale series, some of their videos go well over half a million views per video related to the play throughs, per youtuber playing it.

While this is a totally awesome idea for influencers, and users love it, it comes to a simple issue. If you’re game is solely based on compelling storytelling, and narratives, how can you prevent someone from just watching the story on youtube?

The reason you would want to prevent this, is each person who saw the game story, no longer has a reason to buy them game. You can see all the hidden gems, different endings, and impressive dialogue for free on youtube. There is hundreds of thousands of people simply watching the game for free, and since it’s not a combat based game - once the story is told you simply don’t need to play it anymore. This is absolutely devastating for titles that focus on storytelling.

One of the solutions we’ve seen for things like this, is one that the Persona series has done in the past, and actively in persona 5. Essentially they request a restriction to not stream or post videos of the game beyond the in-game date of 11/19 where the title begins to see the ending of the title.

This was actually widely received as negative to the general community, however it may be that the customer is not always right. By limiting the streaming availability to the game they prevent spoilers from being revealed early, and prevent people from figuring out what happens and seeing the story telling unfold for free.

Some people argue that this is unfair, and even try to make it political, however in my opinion at the end of the day - something like this may have saved telltale games. The counter argument has been that fans of the game will always buy the game, but truly think about it from a consumer perspective - would you really go buy a game you just watched the entire story of? I wouldn't. If combat is not particular to the title, then it leaves a hole in the value of the product once I’ve already seen the game.

Perhaps stream restriction isn't the best method, but there has to be a solution to games like this to prevent the sales from being hurt. In a perfect world the fans would understand that storytelling is vital to the series success and if they should support the franchise through purchases instead of just watching it on youtube. Your youtube support doesn't help the developers, but a restriction means if you want the answers to the end of the series - go play the game.

What we want to know from you, is what methods do you think can be applied to prevent spoilers and a game from being watched instead of purchased to save the developers of the future? We want your advice and feedback on how you would approach this in the comments.

For those of you who are new to development, and you’re looking to get started - be sure to subscribe to us for more game development related content, and tutorials. You can come hang out with us on GameDevHQ.com, and get your hands on a copy of the Unity C# survival guide.

The survival guide is a tool that references all the fundamentals of programming the c# language within unity, and provides you with challenges and exercises to drill it into your brain. Of course use it as a reference as you need to when trying to survive the world of game development. For more information on the survival guide, a link has been provided in the description.

Thanks for watching, and see you next time. Later dudes!


End Transcript. :)

    Comments 6

    • My sons watch let's plays all the time and it makes them want to get the game even more. So we have bought more games because of lets plays actually..

      • yea absolutely! In this case, we are referring to specefic narrative games, and let's plays that are not personalities showing the game off. Instead games that are just all the cut scenes and cinematic in one video played like a movie. In the telltale series, it's a totally different ballgame because besides the story and cut scenes there is only a few puzzles and offers very small increments of repeatability. While some argue this is a design flaw, others argue there is a strong enough fan base for it that it should have succeeded, however there is more unique views on youtube than there was total sales. The theory is if your game is an interactive film essentially, YouTube takes away the value of buying it.

    • I feel the same, I don't think someone who watch the game as a movie wouldn't buy the game anyways, unless the person who is watching feels and want to be part of the story or like the game so much and buy it to try all the different endings.

      Ryan, have a safe flight to Atlanta and I hope I can meet you and Jon at the DreamHack

    • I feel like someone who was going to watch a Let's Play wouldn't necessarily be someone who would buy the game in the first place (and I have bought 2 telltale titles).

      If I were to guess an alternate reason might be the high licensing costs for their titles (Walking Dead, Thrones etc) made them less profitable than original content would.

      • I can agree with that. The game was certainly way too expensive for 7 hours of content. It eventually lowered the pricing, but by then millions of views have already piled up to the entire story. Its not for sure effected by this, but we wonder how it could be.

    • Yes, 100% Let's Plays killed Telltale. I dare anyone else to prove me wrong with receipts from purchased copies of Telltale Games.