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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.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconmaximillio:
Maximillio Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I find this utterly disgusting, kill all of them KILL THEM ALLLLLLLLL
Reply
:iconramencartel:
RamenCartel Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
This mess is pathetic! I hope it all is sorted out soon...
Reply
:iconbigjobbie:
Bigjobbie Featured By Owner May 11, 2010  Professional 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.
Reply
:iconmoogri:
Moogri Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2010
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.
Reply
:iconmo-khan:
Mo-Khan Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2010
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.
Reply
:iconsilvuewolf:
SilvueWolf Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010  Student Artist
damnit! hope you guys file a lawsuit, what they did is just evil.
Hope all your problems become resolved soon.
Reply
:iconglennsueznin:
GlennSueznin Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010  Professional 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.
Reply
:iconseussical-love:
seussical-love Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010
:noes: Ugh. People suck. You didn't deserve to have to deal with that, darling.
Reply
:iconsana-sama:
Sana-sama Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2010   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!
Reply
:icongatogirl12345:
gatogirl12345 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2010
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.
Reply
:iconsa55y:
sa55y Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2010
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!!!
Reply
:iconshimagenki:
ShimaGenki Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2010
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.
Reply
:iconvehrec:
Vehrec Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2010
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.
Reply
:iconhagane85:
Hagane85 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2010  Hobbyist Artist
that really sucks! I'm sorry about that happening, do you have any plans for the future?
Reply
:icondracianflame:
DracianFlame Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2010
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
Reply
:iconthe-betteh:
The-Betteh Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That sucks, I'm sorry.
Reply
:icondraganin:
Draganin Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2010  Professional Photographer
Holy shit. I knew Interzone were a bunch of twats, but I didn't think it was quite that bad.
[hugs]
Reply
:iconmigitmd:
Migitmd Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
holy cow, what a nightmare. I hope everything is eventually straightened out. good luck with it all.
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2010  Professional 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.
Reply
:iconxdead-shadowx:
xdead-shadowx Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2010  Student General Artist
The world is fucked up. ._. I hope you solve your problems soon. Best of luck!
Reply
:iconbentoboxbobby:
bentoboxbobby Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010
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.
Reply
:iconneomonki:
neomonki Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010
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. :/
Reply
:iconblazingtalent:
Blazingtalent Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2010
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 :)
Reply
:iconnithoan:
nithoan Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2010  Hobbyist 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
Reply
:iconlacroa:
Lacroa Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for sharing your experience with us! This is going to make us more aware <3
Reply
:iconfreshyjazz:
freshyjazz Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2010
I am absolutely disgusted at modern business practices, and this is possibly the worst i've heard. I really hope things look up for you.
Reply
:iconaverageunknown:
AverageUnknown Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I saw a comment by you before about starting your own game company, and I think that sounds kickass; I was even about to suggest it, haha. Show those corporate sleazebags who's boss. Well, not boss, but if you make your own company...meh, you know.
Reply
:iconkatizua:
katizua Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Here's an interesting story 2cd hand...

There's that guy who was the brainchild behind Cool World and Titan A.E. He apparently was going ok in the 90's, and could talk investors into his animations. During the last movie he was tryin to do, the bank finally shut the door on him. In the USA this all happens a lot quicker....

Overnight the employees came back to this guy's studio to work and found the whole building relocked and anything inside now the property of the US government because of the sudden bankruptcy. Including any action figures or art supplies you left in your desk.
Reply
:iconfrazzled-niya:
Frazzled-Niya Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
makes my blood boil......What douche bags. Hope everything works out good for you guys :(...Just sounds like the US main branch are using other countries and labor to get out of paying and such. =\
Reply
:iconladyd666:
LadyD666 Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010  Professional General Artist
you know what's sad? this happens all the time
Reply
:iconrawbear:
RawBear Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010
Good luck with everything
Reply
:iconsenoritafish:
senoritafish Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010
I wish I played more online games, so I could boycott any of theirs. I'll be sure to spread this around. I hate this aspect of corporate America because this is not the first story I've heard like this.

I love the first couple of lines of that letter on the door. "We really appreciate your hard work and sorry for any inconvenience..." We got the same thing from the governator here in CA before he grabbed a month's salary. But at least we still have jobs. As if a job is just a "convenience." Grrr.

Linked to. And I'm sorry.
Reply
:iconneon-nazo:
Neon-Nazo Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010
It's times like this that make me ashamed of the business mindset of America... the fact they got away with this is incredibly awful, there really should be international laws that allow countries to work together to bring these assholes to justice when they run away.
Reply
:iconkristoshi-warrior:
Kristoshi-Warrior Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010
That's truly awful... I hope you don't judge everyone by those two people, or however many were involved... Their acts were shameful and disgusting. I'm going to spread the news as best I can.

Hope everybody comes out of it all right.
Reply
:iconannoyingrooster:
AnnoyingRooster Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010
<-- is made with rage :pissed:
I hope they get what they deserve. That is just beyond wrong to do that.
Reply
:iconannoyingrooster:
AnnoyingRooster Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010
*mad
Reply
:iconbluealaris:
bluealaris Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Another instance of people taking advantage of others in the name of the almighty dollar. This is disgusting and Illegal. I hope Australia can take civil action against these assholes. Not to mention that this game that these artists slaved over will likely end up sucking because it was interrupted and slugged around.
Reply
:iconkristal-lee:
Kristal-Lee Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010   General Artist
What an awful thing to happen! I hope all guilty parties get what's coming to them. Jail time, or something. And I sincerely hope that you eventually get paid!
Reply
:iconzenanor:
Zenanor Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010
Seriously, they can't dodge that without corruption.
Reply
:icontongone:
Tongone Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010   Interface Designer
That's sick and corrupted. :rage: I'm just glad you were able to work with the amazing and talented people you mentioned, otherwise that whole job would've been pointless!

Stupid American company owners.. the people here freakin go to other countries and try to bring out the corruption in THOSE areas, but continue to do that same crap here.. uughh..

Thanks for the warning, and for the articles!
Reply
:iconradicalsam:
RadicalSam Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2010
O_O oh yea im telling everyone about this~
Reply
:iconcarlbunkle:
Carlbunkle Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
that sucks...
you guys should make your own game company now since you guys have the knowledge from them.
sort of...
Reply
:iconlinglks:
LingLKS Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010
Oh my freakin' god... I can't believe the shit these sleezebags get away with. I'm so sorry. You are way too sweet and talented to deserve this crap.
Reply
:iconravenwing136:
ravenwing136 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010  Student General Artist
thanks for warning us about such assholes in the real world. can't wait to graduate and kick their ass for what they've done to you guys.
Reply
:iconacid-creature:
acid-creature Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010
ugh. god this sucks.
Reply
:iconbeaverlady:
Beaverlady Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010
Gah that's so screwed up! :(
Looks like Perth is never destined to have a great games company at this rate!
Hopefully you guys can get together and do something though, start a new company without the drama. I know so many people that are looking to get into the games industry.
Hope everything works out for you!
Reply
:iconchun64:
chun64 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010
Corporate asshole comes in using sleazy business practices, hollow promises and outright theft? USA! USA! USA~!
Reply
:iconmul:
Mul Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If it's any consolation, this whole fiasco is making fairly big waves on the business scene, the games development scene, and the gaming scene in general thanks to Kotaku, WA Business News, and Giant Bomb, etc.
Reply
:iconlunarrainbow1224:
lunarrainbow1224 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010
Oh wow, what a complete mess. Really and truely fucked up.

Hope everything turns out good for you and the others.
Reply
:iconartisticpsyco:
artisticpsyco Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010
D: That's horrible. I'll be sure to spread the word about that ass.
Reply
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