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Telltale acquires Flavourworks to boost narrative gaming


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Narrative games firm Telltale has acquired interactive video tech company Flavourworks in a bid to expand Telltale’s storytelling game efforts.

The acquisition aims to enhance Telltale‘s ability to bring cinematic stories to new platforms and audiences. One of Flavourworks‘ backers was Hiro Capital in the United Kingdom.

Flavourworks, known for its mobile-first approach, specialized in technology for cinematic interactive stories. Its flagship product, TouchVideo, let you engage with mobile devices in unique ways, like sliding a finger across the screen to stroke a character’s cheek. It enabled highly responsive interaction with video, unlocking immersive gameplay experiences on touchscreens, smartTVs, PCs, and consoles.

Flavourworks’ games include Erica, Hush: Crane and Cuttlefish. Telltale, which is under new ownership from a group led by CEO Jamie Ottilie, just launched its first episode of a narrative game based on The Expanse.

Flavourworks’ first game was Erica, released in 2019.

In an interview with GamesBeat, Ottilie cited as reasons for the deal the growing demand for deeper interaction with intellectual properties (IPs) among fans and the need for accessibility across various devices and platforms. Flavourworks’ technology and expertise in interactive video will enable Telltale to create story-based games more efficiently and expand its reach through streaming and new platforms, especially on mobile devices.

“It was a pretty simple equation in terms of what Flavourworks does and what Telltale does and synergies are pretty obvious. We’ve been paying attention to Flavourworks since Erica,” said Ottilie. “It’s a different take, obviously, but it falls into the branching narrative space and their approach to it” was unique.

Telltale has been vocal about its strategy to collaborate with strategically-aligned studios and technologies to enhance its narrative experiences. The acquisition of Flavourworks aligns with Telltale’s vision and positions both companies to capitalize on the convergence of the film and game sectors.

“Fans today want to interact with their favorite IPs more deeply, and interactive narratives are a
really immersive way to do that,” said Ottilie. “At the same time, people want to access their games from wherever they are, regardless of device or platform. Flavourworks’ technology and interactive video expertise will enable us to efficiently create story-based games and reach more people through streaming and new platforms. We’re excited about what it could mean for our portfolio of games.”

Flavourworks’ upcoming game takes touch to a new level. This is part of Crane, the first chapter in the Hush anthology.

Ian Livingstone, cofounding partner of Hiro Capital, said in a statement, “The Flavourworks’ team, technology, and creative expertise is a perfect fit for Telltale. Following Telltale’s successful launch of The Expanse, with its strong reviews and excellent player feedback, I look forward to seeing what gameplay innovations a collaboration with Flavourworks will bring in building best-in-class narrative games.”

Flavourworks has previously developed cinematic game titles such as Erica, available on PlayStation, Steam, and iOS, as well as Hush: Crane and Cuttlefish for mobile platforms. Zachary Slatter, CEO of Flavourworks, will join the Telltale management team as the managing director for Europe.

“The Flavourworks team is delighted to be part of Telltale,” Slatter said. “We obviously recognized the of iconic brand and obviously the team. We spent a lot of time really trying to innovate, particularly around the technology, getting it working on multiple different platforms and allowing us to bring these really graphically rich experiences to lower end devices, mobile connected TVs, and more.”

He added, “Flavourworks has always had ambitions to bring our technology more closely to the player experience. Working with Jamie and the creative team there, we’re going to be able to continue to elevate the types of experiences we want to make.”

The acquisition of Flavourworks by Telltale underscores the commitment of both companies to delivering exceptional narrative gaming experiences and leveraging innovative technologies.

Founded in 2015 by Jack Attridge and Pavle Mihailovic, Flavourworks is a mobile-first, next-generation studio that develops and produces technology for cinematic interactive stories.

Cuttlefish is the next interactive film from Flavourworks.
Cuttlefish is the next interactive film from Flavourworks.

The Telltale brand and assets are owned by LCG Entertainment, which operates and markets games under the Telltale name. In its prior ownership, Telltale was successful on the PC and ported its games over as premium titles on mobile. But as premium titles disappeared in favor of free-to-play games, that version of Telltale struggled on mobile.

Now, Flavourworks enables Telltale to hit the mobile platforms with high quality. In the near term, the deal opens up new distribution opportunities, platforms, and ways to use existing content, Ottilie said. He said the companies will work together in collaborative ways, as opposed to operating separately.

“Our intention is that the two teams will wind up being integrated and we will pass things back and forth fluidly,” Ottilie said. “We’re going to spend time getting those things lined up.”

Telltale has around 28 people, and Flavourworks has around a dozen. Telltale is working on publishing the rest of The Expanse episodes now and it is working on a sequel to The Wolf Among Us as well as a third unannounced title. It has been working with outside developers.

Ottilie said he foresees that Telltale will operate with a mix of internal teams like Flavourworks and external teams as well.

“Telltale 1.0 tells you what happens when you do everything in-house, it becomes a very unwieldy business. And so I think that we’ll continue to keep core team members internally. The question we ask ourselves, for any staff role, is if this person or role is going to be used on every game, or just on one game.”

As a core focus, Telltale is creating interactive stories that give players agency to play a role in the major decisions of a game. Now there will be more experimentation with what Flavourworks and Telltale can do together.

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