Vodeo Games, the first game development studio in North America to unionise, are shutting down. The team behind turn-based RPG Beast Breaker announced their closure on Twitter, after being unable to find financial backers for another project. Beast Breaker wasn’t a game I was familiar with but its little mouse protagonist looks charming, as you can see in the trailer below.
“The story is unfortunately a familiar one for small studios,” Vodeo Games said. “Despite a year of avid efforts, we've been unable to secure funding for our next project from publishers and investors. As such, we've run out of funds and aren't able to keep the team together - and there is simply no Vodeo without our incredible team.
“Our final efforts are going toward a Steam release for Beast Breaker. We hope that it will bring our creation to many new players, and continue to support our team even as we all go our separate ways.”
Beast Breaker was Vodeo Games’ first and last project, released on PC and Nintendo Switch in September 2021. The studio had only been founded that year. They were set up by Asher Vollmer, designer of the compulsive mobile hit Threes. Although numbering just 14 staff, Vodeo Games made history when they became the first studio in North America to unionise in December last year by organising through CODE-CWA, the Communication Workers Of America’s Campaign To Organize Digital Employees.
The resulting union, Vodeo Workers United, said they were sad that the studio was closing down. “We learned a lot & will continue fighting for workers' representation moving forward by helping others & sharing our knowledge,” VWU tweeted. The union had been in the process of collective bargaining with Vodeo but hadn’t reached an agreement before it became obvious that the studio would close. Unlike other unions trying to form in the industry, the VWU was set up without being prompted by accusations of discrimination and poor working conditions.
You can check out Beast Breaker on the Epic Games Store, where it’s £12/$14/€14. Vodeo Games are still aiming to bring the game to Steam before they close their doors.