The controversy surrounding Lab Zero Games and Mike Zaimont has proven too much for Skullgirls IP owner Autumn Games to handle, as they have now officially cut ties.
It’s been a very long day for anybody tied to the Skullgirls brand. Lab Zero Games had gradually gotten more and more mired in controversy, mainly due to studio head Mike Zaimont. However, it all looks to have come to a head throughout Monday, August 24, culminating with Skullgirls IP owner Autumn Games cutting ties with Zaimont and Lab Zero.
An official statement from Hidden Variable and Autumn regarding Lab Zero Games and the future of Skullgirls. pic.twitter.com/4qeoN9fgRj
The following statement was issued jointly by Autumn Games and Skullgirls Mobile developer Hidden Variable Studios:
Recently, a number of Lab Zero Games employees have decided to leave the company as a result of actions by Mike Zaimont and a series of reported incidents that involved Mike over the years.
Autumn Games and Hidden Varaible Studios fully support those employees who have chosen to stand by their principles and leave in light of that behavior, and we find their allegations to be credible. As such, effective immediately, we will no longer be working with Mike Zaimont or Lab Zero Games.
Although Hidden Variable has worked on Skullgirls Mobile since 2015, we are a 100% independent studio from Lab Zero Games. Our formal relationship is with Autumn Games, who are the official IP holders for Skullgirls.
While Mike never worked for Hidden Variable or Autumn, his behavior nonetheless directly contradicts our shared core values of mutual respect, decency, and professionalism. Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment, and we were disheartened to hear that this was not always the case at Lab Zero.
One of the things that makes Skullgirls so special is the incredibly passionate, kind, and generous community that has grown around the game and enabled it to flourish over the years. We know how much Skullgirls means to the community and how many of you have given so much of your time, energy, love, money, and support to enable Skullgirls to thrive. In light of recent events, we understand that this is a trying time for everyone involved.
That said, Skullgirls is bigger than any individual, and it will take more than the unacceptable behavior of any one person to bring it down.
Skullgirls, in all its forms, has been a product of years and years of effort from dozens of dedicated developers, artists, designers, and more. As such, Hidden Variable and Autumn are committed to investing in the ongoing development of Skullgirls without the involvement of Lab Zero or Mike Zaimont. We plan to work with the many talented individuals who are leaving Lab Zero to build new Skullgirls content moving forward, including the Annie launch on Skullgirls Mobile in the coming months, and her launch in Skullgirls 2nd Encore in 2021. Beyond Annie, we intend to continue working together to provide new Skullgirls content for everyone in the community to enjoy for years to come.
We hope this can serve as a fresh start for the next phase of Skullgirls development, unburdened by the events of the past.
As always, we thank you all for your trust and your ongoing support. Here’s to a brighter tomorrow for the franchise we love, and the many wonderful people who have made it possible.
For context, Zaimont initially drew negative attention following a tasteless joke referencing Eric Garner and George Floyd’s last words on a livestream. From there, Twitch streamer Bunny began sharing disturbing DMs from Zaimont. Allegations snowballed from there with more cosplayers coming forward about Zaimont’s behavior, which ultimately led to Monday, where multiple Lab Zero employees began announcing their departure from the studio en masse. First there was Mariel Cartwright, followed by Jonathan Kim, and then Brian Jun. All three testified that Zaimont was sole owner of Lab Zero and refused to step down in the wake of his behavior. Dominique ‘SonicFox’ MacLean, who started their illustrious esports career as a Skullgirls champion and has been one of the game’s biggest ambassadors, also gave their support to the departed Lab Zero employees while also issuing strong words directed at Zaimont.
Until this statement from Autumn Games and Hidden Variable, there had been questions on how the studio would handle this situation, especially given that Autumn Games held the IP rights to Skullgirls. Those questions have been answered and it looks like not only will Zaimont not be a part of the equation any longer, but Autumn and Hidden Variable are formally expressing intent to continue supporting the long-running fighting game in the years ahead.
Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can’t enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?
Had no idea this was going on, but suddenly all of those resignations the other day make a hell of a lot more sense
wow, major props. 2020 is the year we expose all the weirdos that think they’re safe from being called out on their shitty behavior.
Damn, what a shame.One of my favorite GDC talks was the animation lead of the Skull Girls team going over animation principles as it pertains to a fighting game and it was really informative.
World news – US – Skullgirls IP holder cuts ties with Lab Zero Games