Vodeo Games and its history-making union close up shop

Beast Breaker developer Vodeo Games will close up shop after the game, first released elsewhere in 2021, gets a Steam release.

“The story is unfortunately a familiar one for small studios,” a Vodeo Games representative wrote on Twitter. “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 simply is no Vodeo without our incredible team.”

Vodeo Games was founded in 2019 by Threes! creator Asher Vollmer, and revealed its first game, Beast Breaker, in 2021. The company’s stated mission was to release one “cozy-crunchy” game per year — games you can “curl up with and completely lose yourself in,” with “complex, interlocking systems that can take years to fully master,” according to its website. The studio was working on its second, unannounced game.

Workers at the studio partnered with Communication Workers of America’s Campaign to Organize Digital Employees and were officially recognized by Vodeo management in 2021; Vodeo Workers United is the first officially recognized video game studio union in North America. Alongside other early union adopters, like groups at Activision Blizzard, Keywords Studios, and Tender Claws, Vodeo Workers United helped paved the way for future organizing efforts. The group said its members will continue to share information acquired during bargaining, despite Vodeo disbanding.

Vodeo Games was in bargaining with the union but hadn’t yet reached an agreement. Negotiation was halted when the studio could not renew funding, Vodeo Workers United said on Twitter.

“Despite the sad news, we learned a lot & will continue fighting for workers’ representation moving forward by helping others & sharing our knowledge,” Vodeo Workers United wrote. “We want to thank the folks at @CODE_CWA for helping us throughout this adventure. We highly encourage you to reach out to them.”

Vodeo Workers United continued: “And to our fellow game workers out there with public campaigns, in the middle of bargaining their first contract, or just starting to discuss unionization with their co-workers: we see you, and we support you.”

The company hasn’t said when Beast Breaker will come to Steam, but the game is currently available on Nintendo Switch and Windows PC via the Epic Games Store.

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