Robert Bowling, former creative strategist at Infinity Ward, has opened a new development studio called Robotoki. The company in question is to be completely self-funded and will have a cross-platform focus. Bowling had left Infinity Ward and the Call of Duty franchise back in late March, following the bitter departure of Jason West and Vincent Zampella.
Bowling has since taken a stance on the importance of the team’s health at his new found studio, stating:
“We are focused on our team first and everything else second, because I believe as an industry we have a lot to learn on how to treat talent… I wanted to create an environment where the creative vision holders held complete control over their work and could guide and maintain it from concept to execution.”
The first game from Robotoki is said to see release on console, PC, and mobile devices. Accompanying this news is that of Bowling’s belief that each experience on a different device should be unique and add to the over all experience:
“However, how they experience the world is unique to their device… The mobile / tablet experience should not mimic the console or PC experience – it should be additive to it, not supplemental.
“Our focus is creating an experience that is no longer strictly single player, strictly co-op, or strictly multiplayer, but adapting the strengths of each of these into a unique experience that is fuelled by the actions and contributions in each.”
Analysis: Many people, including myself, were curious to see what Bowling was going to do after leaving Infinity Ward, considering he played a significant role at the company. He didn’t directly comment on his reasons for leaving the company via his Twitter announcement, but judging from his comments above, it would appear that the development team at Infinity Ward, under the umbrella of Activison, simply weren’t treated as good as they could have been.
I have no real trouble believing this is the case at all, simply because this isn’t the first time that the well-being of the employees at studios of AAA titles has been brought into questioning. The first two examples that come to mind are Team Bondi and the team that worked on Red Dead Redemption, both of which were under fire for overworking their employees. I’m glad to hear that Bowling is ensuring the health and treatment of his team, making this an emphasis and core point for the studio moving forward.
I’m intrigued by the fact that the mobile and tablet experiences will differ from the console and PC versions rather than being a watered down version of the same game. It’ll be interesting how these universes are built and whether this is implemented successfully or not, both by consumers and in its critical reception.