Lab Zero Games head Mike Zaimont has laid off all of the studio's remaining employees. This leaves Zaimont the sole staff member at the studio after a series of significant departures last week left Lab Zero severely underpopulated.
Why has Mike Z fired everyone at Lab Zero Games?
This news comes via Kotaku, who reached out to Zaimont after rumors began to swirl that all remaining Lab Zero employees had been fired. On Wednesday, former Lab Zero artist Jonathan Kim (tweeting as @personasama) tweeted that Zaimont had "laid off everyone who didn't quit LZ" and hadn't agreed to a severance package for the former employees. This tweet was in response to fellow former Lab Zero employee Mariel Cartwright selling her sketchbooks to raise funds for former Lab Zero workers.
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. https://t.co/jmnZYlkYPU— Persona 😎 (@personasama) September 2, 2020
Zaimont's response to Kotaku's request for information confirmed that all remaining employees had been laid off. Zaimont says the studio was "no longer able to meet our payroll obligations" and that it's "not a decision [he] made lightly". According to Zaimont, Lab Zero is in debt and doesn't have the funds to pay said debt. He says he's looking into funding options in the hopes of bringing Lab Zero team members back, but as it stands, Lab Zero has no employees except himself.
What's the background for these departures?
Interestingly - or, perhaps, obviously - Zaimont makes no reference to reasons for prior departures. Several Lab Zero employees quit after it emerged that Mike Z had engaged in inappropriate behavior towards colleagues and gaming streamers. After these departures, the Lab Zero board of directors asked Zaimont to leave, which he agreed to do. Subsequently, however, he reneged on this agreement and fired the board, leaving himself solely in charge of Lab Zero. This decision seems to have prompted many of the studio's remaining employees to leave in fear of what was becoming a toxic working culture.
It's not clear what happens to Lab Zero Games from here on out. What we do know is that Skullgirls, the fighting game crafted by Lab Zero and currently owned by Autumn Games, will continue to receive updates. Mobile developer Hidden Variable will assume control of the game on all platforms, aided by former Lab Zero employees in continuing to develop Skullgirls and create content for it. We'll bring you more on the Mike Z and Lab Zero situation as we get it.
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