A reliable source within the Chicago development community has told Gamasutra that Tony Hawk: Shred will be independently-owned Robomodo's last project in the Activision franchise, and that the company has had to lay off a significant number of staff.
Affected employees were told today, the source said.
[UPDATE: In a statement to Gamasutra, Robomodo president Josh Tsui confirmed: "It is always difficult to let hard-working and valued employees go. Robomodo has retained all of the company’s directors and leads, along with other staff members."
"All are busy working on future projects and ideas, which will become the innovative games of tomorrow," he said. "We hope to bring back some of our team as we ramp up on our next projects."]
Robomodo's prior project, Tony Hawk: Ride, was criticized for the performance of its skateboard peripheral and for its $120 price at a time when constrained consumers were resisting high price points.
However, despite the fact Ride sold only 114,000 units across three platforms in its first calendar month on sale, Robomodo head Josh Tsui touted the game's "retail success," and in March revealed the studio was staffing up for the project that turned out to be Shred.
In August, the Chicago-based studio officially unveiled the game as an Xbox 360 and PS3 project targeted toward a younger audience of kids 6 to 12, who would use Ride's board peripheral with adapted controls.
Robomodo was formed in 2008, after the closure of Electronic Arts' Chicago studio, by Tsui and four other partners, most of whom began at Midway together on Mortal Kombat and worked together through Fight Night 3 at EA Chicago.
Soon after the studio was established, it struck the Tony Hawk: Ride deal with Activision thanks in part to the team's experience working with arcade hardware. Work on the franchise and its associated hardware was the studio's only announced project, which may leave the studio in uncertain straits if it does not continue a relationship with Activision on that property.
Gamasutra has contacted Robomodo's official public relations representative for comment and will update with any information we receive.