Sad news out of Los Angeles yesterday as the end of the road has been reached for Robert Bowling and his Robotoki studio. In an announcement, studio head and founder, Robert Bowling announced that the studio would be shutting down and their first project under development, Human Element, has been placed on hiatus. The team posted a heartfelt goodbye on their site yesterday as well.
After showing new content and revealing more information during the Video Game Awards show over a month ago, today’s news was pretty surprising. As far as I could tell, it seemed like the studio was making great progress enroute to a late 2015 release.
So what happened? It would appear that a publishing deal between Bowling’s company and another company either fell apart or has been delayed postponed. Up to this point, the development of Human Element had been funded out of pocket and due to the deal not happening when expected, the money ran out. A sad truth to independent studios without financial backing from a publisher.
Many of you may remember Bowling from his previous gig as creative strategist at Infinity Ward and the Call of Duty series. He left them back in 2012 to open Robotoki and work on the (then Ouya exclusive) Human Element, a survival style game set within a zombie apocalypse. The game went dark until this past year where it was announced that the game had morphed into a PC and “next-gen” (current gen?) title, using the CryEngine, and was no longer free-to-play. It’s debut trailer was revealed in December during the Video Game Awards show hosted by Geoff Keighley.
It’s never fun to hear about a studio shutting it’s doors for good and Human Element seemed to hold a lot of promise. Considering the game is on-hiatus, hopefully down the road we’ll eventually see the project as it was meant to be. I want to take this opportunity to wish all those affected, the best of luck.