The Wolf Among Us 2 has been pushed to next year in an attempt to avoid the crisis

Today, Telltale Games announced that the long-awaited sequel to The Wolf Among Us has been pushed back to 2023 in an effort to avoid crisis and team burnout, as well as the move from Unreal Engine 4 to 5.

Speaking to IGN, Telltale Games CEO Jamie Ottilie explained that the team made the choice for a number of reasons, but mainly to avoid selling out or shipping an unfinished game.

“Making games is hard and they take time to get right,” he said. “And it doesn’t do any of us any good to ship something that isn’t ready.”

Ottilie explains that like many other studios, the reconstituted Telltale Games had struggled with the challenges inherent in building a studio during the COVID-19 pandemic. After it exists resurrected by LCG Entertainment in 2019 following the shutting down the original Telltale, Telltale revealed The Wolf Among Us 2 at The Game Awards next December. But the studio was still in its very early stages, with the game in pre-production (and expressly not using any previously developed material), and the new studio is about two years away from being fully staffed. While at the time it made sense to announce early to secure funding and support for the new initiative, Ottilie admits that had he known then about other upcoming factors such as the pandemic, he may not have made the same decision.

Making games is hard and takes time to get right. And it doesn’t do any of us any good to ship something that isn’t ready.

“The best game we could play”

Since then, he continues, The Wolf Among Us 2 has been going well. But recently, Telltale made the decision to switch from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal 5. It’s a move Ottilie says happened because Unreal 5 has a number of interesting features that many on his team, especially engineers and artists, believe that it is worth it. But he admits that means we have to redo “a lot of work” that was already done in Unreal 4.

With all this in mind, Ottilie says there would only be two ways to meet the 2023 release window. One option would be to ship something unfinished, which is (perhaps obviously) off the table:

“If we stop this game and it’s not ready, we’re going to be torn apart,” he says. “The expectations are pretty high, and we want time to meet them and we want to be proud of it and know that, ‘Hey, this is the best game we could make.’ Let people say they want [once] it’s been done, but at least we know that in these times, in these circumstances, this is the best game we could make.”

The other option would be to crack — a problem that reportedly plagued the original Telltale Games before closing. Ottilie is adamant that Telltale’s version simply won’t do.

“I’ve done [crunch], and I don’t want to do it again, and it’s not fair to ask,” she says. “You can’t design a business around that. So, yes, part of it is about maintaining a healthy work culture. We don’t want to burn out our good people. It has been incredibly difficult to recruit over the past couple of years between COVID and the job markets and growth in the gaming industry. So, sure, burning people or tearing them down is the wrong thing in the long run. That’s not how you build a business. And as an industry, we’re terrible at it. We burn our people. We make our best people faster. And as an industry, if we’re going to keep growing, we need to stop it. We just have to stop doing it and make better choices.”

The Wolf Among Us 2 will be an episodic release like its predecessor, but unlike many former Telltale titles, it’s being developed simultaneously — so when the first episode comes out, all the other episodes will already be finished. It’s now on the docket for 2024, but Telltale has a major release this year: The Expanse: A Telltale Series, which it’s making in partnership with Deck Nine Games. Telltale also has a third, undisclosed title in very early development.

In the meantime, it’s definitely worth going back and watching the original The Wolf Among Us, especially since its sequel will pick up where Bigby Wolf and Snow White left off. We praised the first episode for its “well-written adventure” with “an added dose of stylish noir presentation” when released way back in 2013and had a lot of nice things to say about the next four episodes as well.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

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