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Tony Hawk: Shred studio wipes out?

Reports indicate Robomodo has laid off 30-60 staffers in lead-up to release of Activision's balance board-compatible skate-, snowboarding title.

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Source: See below.

What we heard: The summer was a bloody one for the game industry, with layoffs coming at Rockstar Games, Sony Online Entertainment, Firaxis, Realtime Worlds, Ubisoft, and LucasArts. Less than a month into fall, and the headcount reductions continue to be an issue. In the past week, Call of Duty: Black Ops DS developer n-Space and Singularity studio Raven Software both confirmed cuts.

Now, it appears as if yet one more studio will be sending developers to the unemployment office. Gamasutra reports today that a source within Chicago-based Robomodo has confirmed that the independent studio has let go "a significant number of staff."

Big air has its disadvantages…
Big air has its disadvantages…

The report comes exactly two weeks before Robomodo ships Tony Hawk: Shred, Activision's skateboarding-snowboarding title starring the titular X Games icon. According to Gamasutra's sources, Robomodo's layoffs were inspired by Activision's decision to strip the studio of the Tony Hawk franchise.

Gaming blog Kotaku echoed Gamasutra's report, stating that sources have confirmed that Robomodo has cut between 30 and 60 staffers from its payroll. The sources also noted that the cause for the reductions was due to Activision reclaiming the Tony Hawk license.

Formed in 2008 from the ashes of Fight Night studio EA Chicago, Robomodo's first project was Tony Hawk: Ride. The game faired poorly with critics, due in large part to its use of an oft-maligned motion-sensing skateboard peripheral.

Still, both Tony Hawk and Robomodo expressed faith in the add-on's technology, which will be seen in the upcoming Shred. The skater was quick to say that the original game "only just really tapped what's possible" with the board peripheral, while the Chicago-based developer ramped up payroll by 20 percent in the months following Ride's release.

The official story: Calls to Robomodo went unreturned as of press time, and an e-mail sent to the studio was returned as undeliverable. Inquires sent to a third-party public-relations firm that had previously represented the studio also went unreturned as of press time.

Activision declined to comment on the report.

Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus that Robomodo has enacted layoffs. However, it remains to be seen how the headcount reductions will impact Robomodo's status as a going concern.

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