The studio lost many of its key team members last month after a series of resignations took place following abuse allegations against owner Mike Zaimont. According to Kotaku, the mass resignations meant that the studio was left with just 11 staff.
Zaimont has told Kotaku that the staff have been laid off because the studio can no longer cover their salaries, but he adds that he is "exploring all funding options" when it comes to reuniting the team.
Whether or not the team will want to be reunited is another matter. In a Twitter post, senior animator Jonathan Kim – who parted company with Lab Zero in August – wrote that Zaimont's behaviour became problematic this year as the studio moved towards becoming a fully employee-owned company.
As part of that process, full ownership was transferred to Zaimont with the understanding that he would begin the process of giving its staff full equity. However, things didn't go according to plan.
According to Kim:
Almost every employee had a story where Mike abused his position of power to put his coworkers in uncomfortable stressful situations for years, which include: frequently mentioning his genitals, forcing unwanted physical contact, making sexual comments about himself or about employee's bodies, insulting coworkers privately or in front of other coworkers, or using very personal details to threaten or demean coworkers when they didn't go along with what he wanted or act in a way he wished. Mike covered up his behaviour by doing kind things, so when people would question him about his bad actions, he would cite his previous good deeds as reasons for why he's allowed to do bad ones.
Kim added that the team had attempted to smooth things over with Zaimont throughout July and August, but Zaimont's attitude became problematic and set a deadline of August 31st for staff to leave if they were still unhappy.
The accusations triggered a joint statement from Skullgirls IP owner and publisher Autumn Games and Skullgirls Mobile developer Hidden Variable Studios stating support of the staff who had chosen to leave Lab Zero, and that neither company would work with the studio again:
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.