Bulletins

Indie developer Vodeo Games forms first North American game industry union

Employees at the small, full-remote studio plan to begin contract negotiations shortly.

A screenshot of Vodeo Games' debut title Beast Breaker.

Vodeo Games, founded by indie developer Asher Vollmer, released its first game, Beast Breaker, in September.

Image: Vodeo Games

The North American video game industry made a significant step toward improved labor conditions with the recognition of its first employee union, at the small indie developer Vodeo Games.


Vodeo, formed by Threes creator Asher Vollmer earlier this year, voluntarily recognized the employee union, which covers both full-time employees and more than half of the 13-person staff, who are independent contractors. The studio is entirely remote and includes employees and contractors in the U.S. and Canada.

The union, Vodeo Workers United, is represented by the Communications Workers of America, which has over the past few years spearheaded efforts to help game studios organize. Earlier this year, CWA helped Paizo, a maker of popular tabletop games, form the first North American union in the tabletop industry.

Many of these organizing efforts have been galvanized by growing outcry in the video game industry over sexist, discriminatory and exploitative workplace conditions at studios large and small. Over the past few months, there has been a major focus on larger companies such as Call of Duty developer Activision Blizzard and Assassin's Creed publisher Ubisoft, both of which are now facing growing labor movements amid investigations and lawsuits.

Vodeo Workers United said in a press release it plans to begin a contract negotiation process shortly to bargain over workplace conditions. Vodeo is also one of a growling number of game makers that has established a four-day workweek, which is one of the benefits the union hopes to preserve.

“All workers deserve a union and a say in how their workplace is run, no matter where they work, what their employment status is, or what kind of conditions they work under," Vodeo producer Myriame Lachapelle said in a statement. "We have been inspired by the growing worker organizing within the gaming industry and hope we can set a new precedent for industry-wide standards that will better our shared working conditions and inspire others to do the same."

Vodeo released its first game, Beast Breaker, for Mac, PC and the Nintendo Switch in September. The studio is now working on a second, unannounced title.

Latest Bulletins

Crypto broker Voyager Digital has filed for bankruptcy protection, days after suspending all trading and withdrawals on its service.

Keep Reading Show less

In order to hobble China’s ability to produce computer chips, U.S. officials are in talks with their counterparts in Holland to block a semiconductor manufacturing tool maker based there from exporting its machines to China, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.

Keep Reading Show less

Stock and crypto trading service eToro has called off a SPAC merger and will stay private, the company said Tuesday. The company is also laying off about 6% of its staff.

Keep Reading Show less

Crypto lender Nexo announced Tuesday that it has signed a term sheet to acquire fellow lender Vauld for an undisclosed sum. While Nexo currently manages assets for about four million users, Vauld manages assets for about 100,000 people, according to the company’s estimates last year.

Keep Reading Show less

Twitter on Tuesday filed a suit against the Indian government in an attempt to limit government oversight over politically charged content moderation decisions. The lawsuit, filed in the Karnataka High Court, also alleges abuse of power by elected officials in India.

Keep Reading Show less

Tesla has lost its spot as the world's largest electric vehicle maker to BYD, the Chinese automaker backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Keep Reading Show less

Ending a project that once sought to build a world-spanning financial network, Meta announced on the Novi website Friday that the pilot test of its blockchain-based money-transfer app would end in September.

Keep Reading Show less

In the wake of privacy concerns following Roe v. Wade being overturned, Google said Friday that it will start automatically deleting location history related to potentially sensitive places.

Keep Reading Show less

Voyager Digital said Friday it is suspending trading, deposits and withdrawals, in the latest sign of the deepening crisis in the crypto markets. Voyager said the move is meant to give the major crypto broker “additional time” to look for “strategic alternatives” as the company grapples with the impact of the market slump, CEO Stephen Ehrlich said in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less

BlockFi CEO Zac Prince said his company has signed a deal giving FTX the option to buy the crypto lender for up to $240 million as part of a credit financing agreement.

Keep Reading Show less

Tesla is facing yet another racial discrimination lawsuit, this one brought by 15 Black current and former employees who are suing the company in California.

The workers said the company’s culture allowed for “blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination” and most of the alleged behaviors are said to have occurred at the company's factory in Fremont.

Keep Reading Show less

Klarna is close to raising new funding at a valuation of about $6.5 billion, which would be far below its last round raised last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move is the latest sign of the effects of inflation and the economic downturn on the fintech sector and "buy now, pay later" in particular.

Keep Reading Show less

Crypto companies will have to disclose just how much climate damage is tied to the tokens they're hawking. At least in Europe, that is.

Keep Reading Show less

Gene Levoff, Apple's former director of Corporate Law, pleaded guilty to insider trading, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Keep Reading Show less

New York state environmental regulators have declined to extend a key permit to a controversial cryptocurrency mining operation in the state's Finger Lakes region.

Keep Reading Show less

FTX is reportedly close to gobbling up BlockFi for about $25 million, though BlockFi's CEO has dismissed the talk as "market rumors."

Keep Reading Show less

The CFPB said it has terminated a sandbox deal that gave earned wage access provider Payactiv “temporary safe harbor from liability” under key lending regulations.

The CFPB granted Payactiv “special regulatory treatment” in December 2020 to offer “earned wage access” products that would allow employees to obtain wages they already earned before payday.

Payactiv gets paid back through a payroll deduction from the employee’s next paycheck. The company makes money through fees.

The CFPB said it had informed Payactiv early this month that it was “considering terminating the approval order in light of certain public statements the company made wrongly suggesting a CFPB endorsement of its products.”

The company requested that the CFPB end the sandbox order after notifying the agency that it planned to modify its product fee model, the CFPB said.

The move underlined the CFPB’s increasingly critical view of sandbox deals that the agency said “proved to be ineffective.”

Safwan Shah, Payactiv's founder and CEO, is credited with coining the term "earned wage access," which has been criticized by consumer advocates as being potentially predatory, especially when it comes to workers who don’t make much money.

Shah has argued that it benefits ordinary workers, citing a dieting principle: "The less you are paid, the more frequently you should be paid," he told Protocol in a 2021 interview. "If you're going to eat 500 calories, don't eat them in one sitting. Spread them throughout the day."

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Payactiv's name. This story was updated June 30, 2022.

Samsung announced Wednesday that it has taken a significant step toward rolling out a next-generation manufacturing technology that has the potential to reshuffle the chip industry.

Keep Reading Show less

Amazon has censored search results related to LGBTQ+ products in the United Arab Emirates after being pressured by the government.

Keep Reading Show less

Grayscale is suing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after the regulator denied the company's bid to convert its bitcoin trust into an exchange-traded fund.

Keep Reading Show less

App developers in South Korea can now use third-party payment systems, Apple announced in a blog post Thursday.

Keep Reading Show less

An employee working for OpenSea's email delivery vendor misused their customer data access to download and share email addresses with an "unauthorized external party," the NFT marketplace wrote in a company blog post Wednesday. The employee worked for Customer.io.

Keep Reading Show less

Javier Soltero is leaving Google Workspace, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian announced Wednesday in an email to staff viewed by Protocol. Soltero will leave his role effective July 15.

Keep Reading Show less

San Francisco-based game development tools provider Unity is laying off hundreds of employees, according to a report from Kotaku.

Keep Reading Show less

Niantic is reportedly cutting between 85 and 90 staff members, or 8% of its workforce.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins