Following a string of resignations from Lab Zero Games, the ex-employees of the Skullgirls and Indivisible studio are looking to a brighter future at a new, worker-owned studio called Future Club.
“We wanted to start fresh with a company structure that was worker owned and gave everyone a say in the future of our organization,” says CEO and Producer Francesca Esquenazi in a press release on the studio’s founding. “Future Club is an employee-owned cooperative game development studio, established with the belief that strong teams are greater than the sum of their parts. We value open, honest communication with peers, partners and players, and take pride in our strength as a team. I’m very excited to continue leading and working with such an incredibly talented and passionate team of game developers.”
As veterans of Lab Zero Games, a studio known for its striking hand drawn 2D animation, the developers plan to keep that tradition going in Future Club.
“We love classic games and are mega influenced by them, but we picked the name Future Club because we want to think of the future too,” says Senior Animator Jonathan Kim. “We want to make games that inspire kids and adults as much as our old favorites inspired us. 2D hand drawn animation has a long future ahead of it, and we want to see how far we can push the medium. Like the games that influenced us, our goal is to create games that are compelling and beautiful enough to be remembered long after their time.”
The cooperative structure of the studio will allow everyone involved to make decisions and have input in the creative process, which will allow all 15 current employees to have a hand in every aspect of its projects.
“Games aren’t the sole effort of a single developer,” said Designer Earl Gertwagen. “We’re a highly diverse team of 15 developers, including artists, animators, programmers and designers, and we shipped our past games as a group effort of teamwork and communication. A co-op structure lets us put that philosophy into reality, and gives us all an equal role in shaping our future as a company alongside the games we make.”
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This news comes about a month after news of developers came forward about Lab Zero Games Lead Designer Mike Zaimont of abuse and harassment, and then left the studio. Kim was among them, posting a lengthy explanation about his resignation on his personal Twitter account, which was backed up by other employees like Brian Jun.
Hey guys, I've resigned from Lab Zero Games. pic.twitter.com/9xlr3X0IHD
— Persona 😎 (@personasama) August 24, 2020
At any rate, hopefully Future Club and its collaborative structure will give all these folks better working conditions and space to make games they enjoy, which will be from original IP, according to Creative Director Mariel Kinuko Cartwright.
“We’re so grateful to our fans for supporting us over the years. We love making games and want to keep making them with each other. ” says Cartwright. “We’re excited to get the chance to develop our own IPs, and we can’t wait to get back to work designing games.”