Connect with us
Advertisement

News

Former Skullgirls and Indivisible devs form new worker-owned studio

New beginnings for former Lab Zero Games developers.

Published

on

Future Club logo
Future Club

New beginnings for former Lab Zero Games developers.

Future Club, “an employee-owned cooperative game development studio”, marks a fresh start for former Skullgirls and Indivisible developers after two months of turmoil at Lab Zero Games.

Last month the creative director Mariel Cartwright, senior animator Jonathan Kim, and artist Brian Jun publicly resigned from Lab Zero Games in protest of the alleged abusive and sexual behaviours of its owner, Mike Zaimont, and his subsequent refusal to leave.

Advertisement

It all started with unsavoury comments Zaimont made on stream about the killing of George Floyd. This led to a flurry of accusations of similarly inappropriate and sexual comments and behaviour within the fighting community. The studio then conducted an internal investigation that exposed the systemic nature of that behaviour.

More departures followed. A week later, Lab Zero Games laid off most of the remaining eleven employees with Zaimont telling Kotaku the studio was “…no longer able to meet our payroll obligations.”

It’s understandable given the lack of power in their former situation, then, that the former employees are opting for a flat structure with their new studio. This new chapter was explained in interviews with Kotaku.

“We really want to make sure that everyone at the company has an equal say,” Future Club CEO Francesca Esquenazi told Kotaku. “There isn’t one person at the top who can unilaterally make decisions for everyone else, because that model didn’t work out very well for us [at Lab Zero]. We really want to embrace a model where everyone is an equal owner and has an equal voice.”

The co-op studio model has been similarly adopted by the developers of Night in the Woods, Tonight We Riot, and Dead Cells. Although, Dead Cells’ new studio has now shifted away from this structure as they seek to expand. (And the new studio was given a perhaps too on-the-nose name, Evil Empire, to accompany the change.)

Advertisement

Future Club might differ from the former Dead Cells studio in establishing equal ownership for all workers but with a tiered payment structure. As well as a flatter structure, at Future Club they’re now looking at conflict resolution processes ahead of time.

“There are going to be problems, and you have to know how to deal with it,” said former creative director Mariel Cartwright. “I’ve learned it’s too late to figure out your conflict-resolution process when there’s already conflict. Figuring it out now while we’re still getting along is really, really important and hopefully we can come up with a plan that can carry us through years of working together.”

The new studio is also dedicated to battling crunch.

“I personally have had a lot of crunch in my life and I’m a little over it,” said Cartwright. “What I’ve learned is that the time I can get away from doing the work is where I get inspiration. I can’t become inspired and come up with new ideas when my head is down at the desk working. For everyone’s health but also for our long-term creativity at the studio, it’s important to achieve a good balance for everyone.”

The new studio has “a few pitches nearing a point where they’re ready to be sent to publishers.” Here’s hoping the new structure provides much happier days for the veteran devs.


Follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard for more video game news.

Enjoyed this article?

We hope you found it useful, or informative, or thought provoking, or maybe even a little entertaining. Perhaps it was a guide that helped you through a tight spot, or we even saved you some money? Lovely stuff! If you'd like to say "thanks" you could always buy the team a cup of coffee.

Recommended for you

'Video shame'/science writer and AI postgrad. Probably looking for political messages about systemic change in the latest Star Wars game.

Advertisement

Latest from Thumbsticks

News6 hours ago

You can now design custom Xbox Series X|S controllers

Let your imagination run wild – the Xbox Design Lab has re-opened, and you can now design custom Xbox Series...

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Isabelle Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Isabelle
News16 hours ago

Nintendo’s Doug Bowser clarifies the future of Animal Crossing after E3 absence

Fans hoping for an update on Animal Crossing: New Horizons at E3 came away disappointed. Worry not, says Doug Bowser.

Bethesda Starfield Bethesda Starfield
News23 hours ago

Bethesda’s Pete Hines ‘sorry’ for frustration that Starfield won’t come to PlayStation 5

In an interview, Bethesda's senior vice president of marketing, Pete Hines, spoke to PlayStation fans, apologising for the frustration that...

Metro Exodus Metro Exodus
News1 day ago

Metro Exodus Xbox Series X|S and PS5 upgrade detailed

With Metro Exodus about to launch on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, developer 4A Games has outlined some of...

Coming exclusively to Xbox E3 2021 Coming exclusively to Xbox E3 2021
Features1 day ago

Something was conspicuously absent from the Xbox E3 2021 conference

Master Chief? Present. Forza? Here. Sea of Thieves? Yarr! Bethesda exclusives? You bet. So why did it feel like something...

Control - Xbox Control - Xbox
News2 days ago

Time is running out to get Control for free on PC

Control, Remedy’s dark, strange third-person shooter, is free on the Epic Games Store.

The Medium - Xbox Series X / PlayStation 5 The Medium - Xbox Series X / PlayStation 5
News2 days ago

Xbox Series X exclusive confirmed for PS5 release

The Xbox Series X|S is losing a high-profile exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation 5 console this September.

Rockstar shuttering GTA Online servers Rockstar shuttering GTA Online servers
News2 days ago

Rockstar shuttering legacy online servers for GTA Online, other titles

Rockstar is bringing an end to online services for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of GTA V, Max...

Advertisement