Lab Zero Games, the studio behind Indivisible and Skullgirls, have laid off many of their remaining employees. Some claim that everyone is gone and that severance pay was not sorted. This comes the week after a number of key employees publicly announced their resignation, with some accusing studio owner Mike Zaimont of inappropriate behaviour and saying the company had tried to get him to leave but failed.
Last week, several high-ranking members of Lab Zero accused Zaimont of controlling, abusive, and sexual behaviour. They publicly announced their resignations as they made allegations, saying the board had asked him to leave but he wouldn’t. Some also claimed he’d said people who didn’t support him should quit by August 31st. A number of high-ranking people did leave, including the former CEO and creative director, though to be clear: not all made or supported accusations. This week, it came to light that Lab Zero have laid off their remaining staff.
Former Lab Zero creative director Mariel “Kinuko” Cartwright announced on Wednesday that she was selling copies of her sketchbooks and using profits “to help support my coworkers at Lab Zero who are now without work”. Animator Jonathan Kim, who also quit last week, added “FYI Mariel has to do this because last week Mike laid off everyone who didn’t quit LZ, but hasn’t agreed to a severance for them yet.”
A Kotaku report says 11 people were left at Lab Zero after the departures, including Zaimont. The site say they’ve spoken to several former employees, who told them folks were anxious about the future of the company after the departure of such key people, and that work on a new project stalled. Then layoffs hit.
“Unfortunately, Lab Zero was forced into layoffs because we were no longer able to meet our payroll obligations,” Zaimont told Kotaku in a statement. “It is not a decision I made lightly. I personally know how hard it can be to find employment in a poorly performing economy, but we have more debt than cash, and the last thing I would ever do is not pay my hard-working colleagues or our partners for their work. We are exploring all funding options in hopes of bringing those team members back, but right now that’s the reality.”
The fate of everyone is unclear for now. Autumn Games, who own the rights to Skullgirls, said after last week’s resignations that they planned “to work with the many talented individuals who are leaving Lab Zero to build new Skullgirls content moving forward”. Maybe they can pick up more people.