The Sunset of Tale of Tales Studios

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By Stephanie Smith – 22nd June 2015
The Sunset of Tale of Tales Studios

I’m sure we have all heard of Tale of Tales studios. They make games that are trippy a surreal and approach everything from a completely different angle. Unfortunately, being different isn’t always rewarded and after their latest game ‘Sunset‘ was a commercial failure they decided to call it quits.

Bientôt l’été

2012 Tale of Tales Game ‘Bientôt l’été’

Gaming is a broad category that covers everything from a point and click adventure to a heated action game. The vastness doesn’t help outliers get scooped up and games like ‘The Graveyard’ fall into a murky area of interactive painting rather than a video game. Tale of Tales was always more focused on stories than gameplay. ‘Sunset’ was their attempt to make a more approachable game or as they put it “A game for gamers”. However, Sunset was again a game for a niche audience, and again narrative driven. I even in said in my review that I didn’t think of it as a game, but I still rated it highly because the story was sound and it was something I have sunk hours into since.

Vanitus

2010 Tale of Tales Game Vanitus

Tale of Tales studios has been running for 12 years and has always been reliant on Kickstarters and grants to keep going. It has never been a studio that has been focused on money making and you can tell that from their work. Unfortunately, money is a lot like a jealous lover, and if you don’t give it all of your attention it leaves you for someone who will. They had a lot of faith in the game Sunset and ended up taking loans which they were sure they’d make back within the first month of gaming.

FATALE: EXPLORING SALOMÉ

2009 Tale Of Tales Game: FATALE: EXPLORING SALOMÉ

They were proud of their work and enjoyed making it and this heartbreaking line says it all:

“that’s when we should have realized that we were on the wrong path. Because whatever we enjoy is never, ever, what the gaming masses enjoy.”

It was probably a mistake to sell a DRM-free game in an age of Steam refunds. The sort of short experiences that Tale of Tales offered is a dying art these days, I’ve already spoken about my feelings on the end of short games but it still hurts to see a studio like this die. They invested in expensive PR, studied other games and gave it their all. It is simply a dog eat dog world out there and sometimes things don’t happen the way we want.

You can read their full blog post here.

The Sunset of Tale Of Tales Is Still Beautiful…

Despite this bitter ending, I will say this:

Tale of Tales you did what many studios fail to do. You stayed true to yourself to the very end. You created games that you loved and didn’t simply go with the crowd. Like a sunset you may be coming to an end, but damn, you do it gloriously. It may be dark for a time after this, but I have no doubt that talented people such as yourself will rise once more and create something even more beautiful.

I don’t want to be cheesy or cliche but I find that the news of Tale of Tales closing a lot more painful than I’d expect. Maybe I am biased by my love of their games, you can let me know in the comments below.

  • verytirednerd

    I read they wanted to make something more gamer-friendly, and studied other successful games, but I just don’t get it. Is the data not already there? The audience for these types of games is very small, and without extensive changes, it was never going to appeal to the mainstream. I don’t get how any company could look at the market and think, ‘we’re going to make something completely different and then charge $20 for it’.
    I’m genuinely baffled.
    They put out tons of ads, got tons of good reviews and articles from the usual suspects, and it proved, once and for all, how absolutely small the audience for this type of game is (and how out of touch the Kotaku/RPS/Polygon group are).

    I just don’t get how a company can fail so hard at market research.

    I advocate for freedom of expression, so I’m glad they made the game they wanted to make, but charging that much for it? This is the kind of game most gamers aren’t gonna want to play, that’s just the market as it is. So they should have charged much less, to get the gamers that might be enticed, but aren’t willing to spend more than $2-$5. These kinds of games need very low price points.
    I really liked Thomas Was Alone, it’s short, but I got it for about $5, so it was an easy purchase. Whose company is still standing?
    In an age of refunds, humble bundles, and steam sales, this is not a $20 game.

    I’m more annoyed at Leigh Alexander. They hired her PR company, she should have told them all this, she could have saved them. Instead, she failed and helped destroy them.