Interzone Games Artist tells Story Behind Closure
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Risachantag's avatar
By Risachantag   |   Watch
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Published: February 13, 2010
Serious news story about the closure of my workplace, Interzone Games

At first I was quite hesitant to talk about this online, but given the amount of media coverage that’s now out there, it seems like a good time.

My workplace, Interzone Games, in Perth, Australia, is about to be liquidated by the ATO due to unpaid tax debts. Interzone Games is a game development studio, working on an MMO that was scheduled for release later this year.

Money for these taxes was meant to be sent by the parent company, Interzone Entertainment, based in the USA. Namely, the CEO, Marty Brickey, and directors (though now resigned), Greg Chadwell and Mike Turner.

The parent company has also failed to send money to pay employees salaries. They’ve been constantly late with payments, and as we currently stand, we have not been paid for the last one and a half months work. They have also failed to pay our superannuation, in my case, for about two of the two and a half years I’ve worked there.

The last year I have spent there, we’ve had multiple occasions where our pay was extremely late (almost two months at one point) and naturally during these times the US company had nothing but a huge stream of promises of incoming money, of which next to none of these promises were kept. They were never up front with us about the condition of the company, and were trading in an insolvent state, ie. illegally, for over a year. There has also been no resident director for the Perth company since 2008; also illegal by Australian law.

There were also two other branches of the company, one in Brazil and one in China. Very similar things happened to both; they weren’t paid and were liquidated, while the directors from the US company got away with it. As far as I understand it, if the directors of a company are out of the country, there’s very little you can do to them. Ex-employees from both companies have been in serious trouble financially as a result.

You’re probably wondering, why the hell I stuck around, with a company with a CEO and directors as dodgy as that. First of all, the people I worked with in the Perth studio were some of the most amazing, talented and friendly people I’ve ever met. I’ve learnt a lot from them, and I would still love to work with them in the future. I don’t regret staying with the company, even through all the shit that we went through.

We always very active, striking when not paid for extended periods, seeking all the legal and government advice and action we could. However, pretty much all the avenues we have pursued turned to be either hopelessly slow at acting or unable to help us. The ASIC in particular, the one organization that could have detained the directors from the parent company when they were in Australia, turned out to be completely useless, as any investigation they made had a turnaround of almost a month, by which time the directors could have run back to the US.

I feel absolutely no obligation to the parent company, who screwed us over in any way they possibly could. But for the people I worked with and the game we were working so hard to complete, you know, I really wanted things to at least hold together until we’d shipped the game.

But you know what? I haven’t even GOTTEN to the story that’s unfolded this week, so I’ll share what I can with you, here.

This week, with the ATO’s closure of the company imminent, Mike Turner arrived in Perth to copy the game (ie. the intellectual property) and leave with it before all the building’s assets were seized. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this, naturally.

To start with, Turner turned up at the office, with no paperwork, expecting us to HELP him download the IP from the servers. We said as we hadn’t paid, we wouldn’t co-operate.

He then came back after dark, when we’d all gone home and changed all the locks, telling us we were all suspended and that we were trespassing (both of these are false. You can’t be suspended when there is outstanding pay, and we were on public property). With the help of a contracted Bigworld Technology server engineer, over the next two days they downloaded an unknown quantity of data from the servers, quite possibly including property that was not their own.

As an employee, I’m horrified at the idea of the parent company swooping in and flying off with all our hard work that they haven’t paid for, and dodging all responsibility for the massive debt they’re leaving behind.

Supposedly, their plan is to get another studio in the USA to finish the game, which is a ridiculous idea. Anyone who knows anything about developing games would know how much longer it would take to release the game if you’re starting with a new development team who don’t know the game engine or the code. Oh, and they’ll ‘pay out everything we’re entitled to’ once the game ships and makes money (Hahahaha. Seriously, a promise from Marty? Like all those other promises? Even if the game shipped and made money, the chances we’d see a cent of it are pretty much nil).

Also, this means that they DID have the money to pay our debts, but decided it would be cheaper not to.

That’s the situation we’ve all found ourselves in. It’s all over the news, if you’d like to read more, there are a number of videos and articles:


www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IsIKD… (yes, I’m on television)

kranzky.rockethands.com/2010/0… (breakdown of info on the companie/people involved, news articles etc)

www.wabusinessnews.com.au/en-s…

www.kotaku.com.au/2010/02/wa-d…

au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/busi…


What you can do to help:

Just looking at the above links will help. I would love these news articles to be the first thing you see when you Google ‘Marty Brickey’. People need to know not to trust them. He’s the sort of character who’s all charisma and promises, but his word is worthless.

Don’t invest with them, don’t work for them, and if you can, spread the word about who they are and what they’ve done.

I’m not in dire need of any financial support for the time being, so please don’t worry. I should be able to apply for GEERS, a government organization, which pays any outstanding payroll in Australia in the event of a company being liquidated. That'll most likely take a year or more though.

I will lose the superannuation, and yes, it sucks, but that at least I’m pretty well resigned to.

However, if you would like to support the rest of the team several members of Interzone work on game projects in their spare time. I’ll later post another article with more detail showcasing some of the iPhone games, because one, it’ll help them financially in a small way, and 2, THEY’RE AWESOME!

Rocket Hands
Sandbox Software

I have decided to wait until all the drama has calmed down before looking at my options for further work.
Comments149
anonymous's avatar
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Maximillio's avatar
MaximillioHobbyist Digital Artist
I find this utterly disgusting, kill all of them KILL THEM ALLLLLLLLL
RamenCartel's avatar
RamenCartelHobbyist Artisan Crafter
This mess is pathetic! I hope it all is sorted out soon...
Bigjobbie's avatar
BigjobbieProfessional Digital Artist
Oh man. I was there right at the beginning in late 2006/early 2007. Did early concept art while IZ was still setting up it's offices. Spent one day as a full-timer out at Tech Park before walking because I smelled something was off (Dysfunctional management). Took me maybe 8 months to get paid for the freelance stuff? Their first bit of money trouble I guess.

Very sad I didn't get to meet all the cool artists who ended up working there though. Sounds like you guys got pretty tight and looked out for each other.

Best of luck with finding new work.
Moogri's avatar
Wow, this sucks. Hope you're doing well Lisa.

I wonder if the new computer system upgrade FAILURE at the tax office had anything to do with the delays.

Wow, I need to get out more, it's been 2 months and this is the first I heard.
Mo-Khan's avatar
People like this Marty make me sick. they make all American business owners look completely untrustworthy. I can't even get mad at the foreign deviants who claim to dislike Americans.
I can only promise you that not all large businesses coming from America are like that. I do hope you find work again. And if I were you, I would consider starting your own business with the other disadvantaged employees.
SilvueWolf's avatar
SilvueWolfStudent Artist
damnit! hope you guys file a lawsuit, what they did is just evil.
Hope all your problems become resolved soon.
GlennSueznin's avatar
GlennSuezninProfessional Traditional Artist
I had read about this a while ago and was unable to put some time into a response, but I wanted to say that I hope the best for all of you there, especially you. You looked beautiful on TV but just wasn't the kinda report you should of been featured on ( ;P ) but I hope things are still ok for you.
seussical-love's avatar
:noes: Ugh. People suck. You didn't deserve to have to deal with that, darling.
Sana-sama's avatar
Sana-sama Photographer
And this is why, even though I myself am an American, I strongly believe that most of American business needs to be torn completely apart. These jackoffs take advantage of all of us, and it's not right, it's not fair, and in all truth, they're the ones who need to be thrown into chain gangs. Hang in there, and everyone else, let's spread the word. If we artists, each and every one of us, don't do something about this...No one will. And we know it!
gatogirl12345's avatar
Yeah, that's why I like smaller business. Not necessarily as small as family business but no where near the power of monopolizing and a limit on its ability it can expand on.
sa55y's avatar
I can't believe that something like this has happened so close to home. I imagine it is extremely difficult for the Australian government to take any action in a situation like this where assets and directors or a multinational company are located outside of the scope of Australia's territorial jurisdiction. While it is true that Interzone is under legal obligations to pay employee entitlements in accordance with your employment contracts, there is a specific order in which creditors are paid when a company undergoes liquidation. More often than not money runs out and lower priority creditors don't get paid :(

With your talent I am confident that you will be able to find another and better job in the very near future!

Gunbare!

P.S. You look good on camera!!!
ShimaGenki's avatar
That's so terrible!!

I wish everyone who was screwed out of so much money and hard work the best. Unfortunately, in times like these, proper justice is very rare.
Vehrec's avatar
Meet the American corporate culture. Where the philosophy is not to make a product you can sell but to make money by any possible means. Deny payment? Done. Steal ideas? You have lawyers who you pay to make those yours. Sell a dubious mortgage to investors setting up a global economic collapse and very nearly killing the housing industry that you depend on? In a heartbeat.

Gordon Gecko from the movie 'Wall Street' once said that greed is good. To many corporations, greed is not only good, it is the only possible good there can ever be.
Hagane85's avatar
Hagane85Hobbyist Traditional Artist
that really sucks! I'm sorry about that happening, do you have any plans for the future?
DracianFlame's avatar
And my respect for America dwindles further...
Tell me where this Turner ass is and I'll deliver a swift kick to the balls...although this bastard sounds like he honestly needs to have his greedy hands paper cutted off with the very money he hoards...
Damn, I'm sadistic. XD
The-Betteh's avatar
The-BettehHobbyist Digital Artist
That sucks, I'm sorry.
Draganin's avatar
DraganinProfessional Photographer
Holy shit. I knew Interzone were a bunch of twats, but I didn't think it was quite that bad.
[hugs]
Migitmd's avatar
MigitmdHobbyist General Artist
holy cow, what a nightmare. I hope everything is eventually straightened out. good luck with it all.
merimask's avatar
merimaskProfessional Artisan Crafter
Wow...what a nightmare. :-( I'm so sorry for you & all your co-workers. It sounds to me like you'd have one heck of a class-action suit to bring against this guy. Also, it seems to me like he must have violated about a hundred international statutes by snatching your work like that & leaving the country with stolen property. Just terrible.
xdead-shadowx's avatar
xdead-shadowxStudent General Artist
The world is fucked up. ._. I hope you solve your problems soon. Best of luck!
bentoboxbobby's avatar
Sorry to hear that. I got laid off a lot of times from Games companies. That's why I'm going back to school for Global Business.
neomonki's avatar
Hey Risa! Working for a game studio in Halifax now, it's been scary seeing all the shut downs that have been happening lately and now to see this! T_T I hope you're okay and I'm so glad to hear how you've been backing up your fellow workers there. Recently we had 14 people laid off over here because there's just not enough work to go around with companies making less games this year. :( Only reason I feel safe right now is because there'll always be another FIFA every year. lol. :/
Blazingtalent's avatar
Hi, i'm a long time watcher and a rather good fan of your work. I'm doing a games design production management course in the uk at the moment, and reading this really struck me as horrifying. All that work that you did, and given naught for it. It's companies like that that make people like myself worry about the big bad world we are working towards entering. To be screwed over by higher ups and left with nothing is something i wouldn't even know where to begin dealing with. I have to admit, i have second guessed my motives for doing this course for a bit since reading that...

I think you did pretty damned well to put up with so much crap... and i hope that things end up working better in the future for you :)
nithoan's avatar
nithoanHobbyist Digital Artist
My dream is to be like you, working in a game company, but i have never imagined that such thing would have happened, i feel sorry for you all, but least you have met some great people there, hope that you all cvan start anew, or maybe create your own company , optimistic is needed here
anonymous's avatar
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