A group of former Skullgirls and Indivisible developers from Lab Zero Games have launched an “employee-owned cooperative game development studio” called Future Club, following resignations and layoffs from Lab Zero last month.
In August, a number of Lab Zero devs resigned, saying they could no longer tolerate the inappropriate behaviour of the owner, Mike Zaimont. Then, just a week after, Lab Zero laid off many of their remaining employees.
Future Club is a fresh start for these devs, though, says CEO and producer Francesca Esquenazi, “with a company structure that’s worker-owned and gives everyone a say in the future of our organization.”
“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,” she adds.
The co-op structure means the studio’s power won’t fall to a single person, but they also intend on putting “conflict-resolution” processes in place to avoid some of the issues that caused Lab Zero to shut down.
“There are going to be problems, and you have to know how to deal with it,” creative director Mariel “Kinuko” Cartwright told Kotaku. “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 currently made up of 15 developers, and while most of their projects are still in the “planning stages”, they already have “a few pitches nearing a point where they’re ready to be sent to publishers”.
“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.”
To stay up to date with Future Club’s upcoming projects, keep an eye on their website.