The last few days have seen several notable employees resign from Skullgirls developer Lab Zero Games, many of whom cited poor behaviour on the part of project lead Mike “Mike Z” Zaimont as catalyst for the mass departure. But according to new information, those same workers will be able to continue developing Skullgirls content independently.
Late last night, Skullgirls publisher and intellectual property holder Autumn Games and Skullgirls Mobile developer Hidden Variable Studios released a joint statement backing the former Lab Zero employees, addressing the situation at the company, and distancing themselves from Zaimont.
“Autumn Games and Hidden Variable Studios fully support those employees who have chosen to stand by their principles and leave in light of [Zaimont’s] behaviour, and we find their allegations to be credible,” the statement reads. “As such, effective immediately, we will no longer be working with Mike Zaimont or Lab Zero Games.”
The statement goes on to say that Autumn Games and Hidden Variable Studios plan to continue producing Skullgirls content with the help of the former Lab Zero employees, a group that includes noteworthy individuals like Mariel “Kinuko” Cartwright, Jonathan “Persona” Kim, and Brian “EU03” Jun. While it’s unclear which of these folks will still be working on Skullgirls, a Hidden Variable spokesperson told Kotaku that they have entered into talks with several departing developers, among whom there is a “mutual interest” in continuing production.
“We are currently sorting out the logistics of how this will manifest,” the Hidden Variable rep added. “Regardless of what form the relationship takes, we are committed to working with them to generate new Skullgirls content and to provide financial support to help them land on their feet.”
Annie of the Stars, a popular Skullgirls character who barely missed out on being added to the game in previous crowdfunding efforts, is currently scheduled to appear in Skullgirls Mobile later this year with a debut in the main game planned for 2021. The hope is that both versions continue receiving updates with help from the folks who have left Lab Zero Games, but what those updates will look like remains to be seen.
Skullgirls has been an important part of the fighting game community since it launched in 2012. Zaimont, a veteran fighting game competitor, developed the game to appeal to serious fans of the genre, and a thriving scene flourished under the watchful eye of Lab Zero Games. That said, Skullgirls is bigger than one person, and while recent developments may have discouraged even the most diehard fans, this forward-looking statement should go a long way toward assuaging fears of the game’s demise.