This “page of links” is an attempt to document the last days of Interzone, Perth. It’s a crazy story, and it’d be great if you could help us out by spreading the word.
- Approximate Timeline of Events
- YouTube: Interzone Futebol on the Television News
- YouTube: Mike Turner Removes Intellectual Property from Interzone Games
- YouTube: Mike Turner Questioned by Interzone Employees
If you have any links that I don’t know about, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am Marty Brickey, the founder and CEO of Interzone Entertainment. Two years ago I took an idea and today Interzone Entertainment is a multinational company with over 100 employees in Brazil, U.S., Australia, and Asia, and we have a game in Alpha testing. It’s been an exciting ride indeed.
Having so many talented people relocate their families to our Perth, Western Australia studio shows their dedication to this project, and their level of commitment to creating a futebol franchise with global appeal,” said Interzone Entertainment executive vice president Greg Chadwell.
- VP of Business Development: Mike Turner
Interzone Futebol has been in development for almost two years, and we are in closed alpha testing now. We are funded by Interzone Entertainment, our publishing arm, which is a privately held company created by a group of investors with a history of investing in the game space.
Right of Reply
Let me be clear that to this day we are very close to closing a major round of funding and have always had the intention of making Perth whole through proper channels if in fact we make a full exit from Australia, and in fact we have suspended operations there until a resolution can be met.
Between 2009 and 2010, Interzone Entertainment shut down its game development studios in Australia, China and Brazil, leaving behind millions of dollars in unpaid debts and hundreds of broken promises. Now they are reformed as “Big Collision Games”, and on track to launch the very product they still haven’t paid their employees for developing.
As former employees of Interzone, we are writing in regards to the $657,405.57 still owed to us in unpaid wages ($110,017.17), leave entitlements ($143,348.7), and superannuation ($404,039.69). This debt remains outstanding despite Interzone’s legal obligations as an employer in Australia.
Our understanding is that: Interzone Pty Ltd has outstanding debts of approximately $1,500,000; it has failed to respond to to communication from various government agencies; and BigWorld is currently working with Interzone Pty Ltd’s parent company, Interzone Entertainment, to continue game development despite this gross moral hazard … we urge you to reconsider any involvement you may have with Interzone Entertainment while it continues to operate without meeting its legal obligations to its former Australian employees.
The New Game
“We wanted to bring Online Soccer Champions, to consumers during the World Cup as we know both fanatic soccer fans and gamers alike won’t be able to get enough of the head-to-head competition,” says Mike Turner, vice president of business development, Big Collision Games … Marty Brickey, CEO of Big Collision Games, said, “It feels great to finally deliver Online Soccer Champions™ to PC gamers in North and South America; we are proud of what we have accomplished to date and very excited to think about the future as the game evolves.
Taken from the Big Collision Games’ press release as published by IGN, among others.
The New Company
Big Collision games has assembled a diverse team of experienced individuals … we are a Big World Technology licensee … our first product, Interzone Futebol, is in a closed testing phase now and it will be commercially available in multiple markets before the World Cup.
BigWorld provides a mature middleware platform for developers of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) and Virtual Worlds that is fast becoming the industry standard.
The Animation Tech
Mixamo offers the first online 3D character animation service that provides 3D game developers the power to customize and create professional-quality character animations at unprecedented speeds.
Thanks to many years of experience, attractive products, and an emphasis on customer accessibility, gamigo has grown to be one of the leading online publishers in Europe and distributes Massively Multi-player Online Games (MMOGs) of various genres to a wide target audience.
Garrett Fuller recently had the chance to sit down with Big Collision Games’ Vice President of Business Development Mike Turner to ask him about Online Soccer Champions … “A few years ago, we set out to create an authentic soccer game for a global audience. Since then, Online Soccer Champions has been in development and gone through several iterations – previously under the name “Interzone Futebol.” This year, however, we are finally releasing the game to a wider audience in multiple markets.”
The Downward Spiral
When you task a start-up studio with taking on the most massive MMO in existence, you can’t be surprised when it all begins to fall apart. DANIEL HINDES explores the collapse of Perth’s largest development studio, and the shady corporate tactics that led to its downfall.
It seems the Interzone operation has been running on the smell of dangling carrots for more than 15 months. And with the carrots have come internal staff divisions between those who have wanted to take action against the company to fight for their owings, and those who have continued to hope the promised new funding was on its way.
The Australian Tax Office is investigating an international gaming company after it was hit with a million-dollar tax bill and closed its Perth office without warning. Interzone was set up with the help of a half-a-million dollar State Government grant.
A former Interzone employee Tim Colwell says staff were allowed into the office yesterday to retrieve their personal belongings and found that all the computers had been removed. “Everything is gone so whatever remained of the company in terms of value obtained from liquidating it is now gone,” he said. “Instead of having basically nothing we now have absolutely nothing.
THE DIGITAL Hub has requested a meeting with the management of a tenant company over its alleged involvement with a computer games firm in Australia that wound up last month owing more than AUS$1.5 million (€993,000). The company, Big Collision Games, has agreed to a meeting when it formally occupies its Irish office some time later this month or in April. It signed an agreement in December to take space at the Digital Hub, a State-funded incubation facility for digital media and games companies.
The news we had at hand was that Interzone Games, the Perth game development studio, will be closing down sometime around the 15th of February, and a Chicago executive from the parent company was due to arrive this week to bring the assets and servers from the Perth studio back to the U.S. The locally developed BigWorld tech based MMO social soccer game, Interzone Futebol, and all its assets and code is set to be handed over to a new studio in Ireland called Big Collision Games where they’re expected to continue development with new funding received.
This announcement caused complete and total outrage in the Perth studio. These are people who have been consistently lied to, deceived, and let down by Marty, Greg and Mike. These are people who have stayed true to the company through over a year of inconsistent funding, non-existent technical support, and long unpaid working hours.
Mr Turner, who flew into Australia this week, plans to remove all the intellectual property (IP) from the site, including the latest games development data and computer servers, and return to the US on Saturday. Upon his return, it’s understood that Mr Brickey and Mr Turner will complete the existing games development project with a small contracted team of developers, essentially taking with them the Western Australian employees’ last 18 months worth of work, leaving them with little to show for it except for a long list of questions and even longer list of demands for unpaid wages and superannuation.
Police were called to the Interzone office on Wednesday when a former company official tried to remove computer equipment. “It contains all the intellectual property we have been working on for the last 18 months, IP which they haven’t paid for yet,” Mr Wai said.
The executive warned against possible “sabotage,” telling former employees to carefully consider “how far [they] are willing to go” to get their unpaid wages. “Eight of our major investors are already independently retaining council (sic) in Perth and are reading (sic) to strike hard and fast at anyone committing tortuous (sic) interference, slander, or liable against the company,” he wrote.
Mike Turner flew to Perth this week with the intention of obtaining all the content and server hardware that the studio worked on and will be returning to the U.S today. Former staff have found this unacceptable, arguing that the work produced for the last 18 months has not been compensated or paid for yet. Police were called in to the studio on Wednesday night as locks were changed for the server room and offices.
According to an ex-employee of the company, staff have not been paid for months, and a planned move of intellectual property and server hardware could result in vastly reducing the value of the Perth-based studio in the face of an assets sale.
One former employee claims that the developer owes $1 million to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and another $500,000 to past and present staff. It is further claimed that the company’s US parent is trying to pack up server hardware and game code to keep current projects such as MMO Interzone Futebol alive as its Perth location goes under.
Last week a former world designer for Interzone Entertainment, the company behind the social and soccer-themed virtual world Interzone Futbol, wrote to Kotaku to tell them of the company’s cash flow and tax problems. In brief, the company is short on cash and closing offices. The CEO, however, says that Interzone is close to raising more money and will finish Interzone Futbol.
IT could have come from the pages of a Hollywood thriller – protesters in the streets, claims of corporate sabotage and the stealing of lucrative intellectual property. Now it seems only liquidation and lawsuits will result from the tens of millions of dollars invested in what one company co-founder has acknowledged as a “risky’’ venture, leaving employees searching for answers.
In the continuing saga of the Interzone debacle, Interzone employees have just released footage of a former Interzone manager attempting to unlawfully retrieve hardware from the Perth game studio containing the Interzone Futebol content and assets that the employees had worked on, the previous 18 months of which were completed without payment.
The 15 staff who are left without their back pay and entitlements were picketing the office for several days and managed to nab the vice-president of business operations, Mike Turner, one night as he was allegedly removing intellectual property from the company’s office.
Interzone Vice President of Business Operations Mike Turner did appear at the offices on the 10th of February where he is alleged to have been collecting work on Interzone Futebol from the Company servers to return to their US Offices . Outraged staff consider Interzone’s ownership of the Intellectual Property of the game to be in question. The project now being undertaken by Big Collision Games, based in Ireland.
The first letter, to Marty Brickey (Director of Interzone Pty Ltd, CEO of Interzone Entertainment LLC, and head of Big Collision Games), demands that all outstanding wages, entitlements, and superannuation are paid within 21 days … the second letter, to BigWorld Technology Pty Limited (an Australian company we believe to be working with Interzone Entertainment LLC to launch the game we worked on), seeks to inform BigWorld that they may be (inadvertently) assisting Interzone in avoiding its responsibilities to pay employee entitlements.
It looks like Big Collision Games aka Interzone Entertainment is launching Online Soccer Champions aka Interzone Futebol in “closed beta.” So they claim anyway, knowing what I know about the state of the game when it was ripped from the servers at the Perth studio and what it takes to actually make a game, I have serious doubts they have anything worth playing actually running.
I read yesterday that Interzone (operating as Big Collision Games) is launching Interzone Futebol (now branded for North and South American launch as Online Soccer Champions) into closed beta, despite still owing over $1.5 million to former employees of the Perth studio and the Australian Tax Office.
In a bizzarre story, the American CEO of Perth-based game developer Interzone has shut down shop in the Australian Government Grant-funded offices to flee the debt-ridden company and establish a new company here in Ireland, based in the Digital Hub. The company owes the Australian tax payers $1million (Aus) and the employees $500,000 (Aus).
never, EVER EVER work for these snakes. They are not at all interested in the business of making a good game, pure and simple. Investigations have shown that they have upwards of seven companies that move money and shares around in order to get away with this bullshit – basically what you see here is a “pump and dump” scandal that went horribly wrong
Over the past week, issues between local developers employed at the Western Australian office of Interzone and the US-based head office came to a head when Interzone’s VP of Business Development, Mike Turner, was confronted by employees.
Australian studio Interzone is in some hot water down under, suffering from the 2008 credit crunch and several forced studio closures, it now owes over a million USD in taxes, employee payments and pensions.
So let me get this straight, Marty operates a company illegaly for 18 months, doesn’t pay his debts, exploits and abuses employees then “appropriates” the unpaid-for intellectual property from Perth… and has the insolence to claim the state government owes him $120,000?
One of the Interzone executives recently flew into Australia, and was caught by staff (on video!) entering the office late at night, allegedly for the purpose of copying all the intellectual property of the studio (Interzone Futebal, a game still in development) with the (alleged) intent of taking it back to the USA to continue working on it – just days before the ATO closed in to liquidate their assets.
The West Australian and other sources are reporting that Mr Turner intended to retrieve all hardware and intellectual property from the site, including the latest game data and servers, and return with them to the US before the ATO closes in on the 15th of Febuary to seize all company assets.
Interzone in WA is days away from liquidation owing $1.5M to the ATO and staff. I sounds like the whole mess has been dragging on for months with staff hanging in there to finish the project so the company could be saved. Sadly, as many others have found, loyalty isn’t a highly valued commodity these days.
[The police] refuse to check Mike Turner’s passport (we strongly suspect that he is not here on a proper business visa and is therefore unable to legally do “business” like this in Perth), refuse to verify the actual validity of the document, refuse to check him for any ID or proof of employment at all. In fact, Mike Turner could have called himself Marty Brickey and the cops would probably believe him.
We’ve contacted ASIC over and over again asking for help, but they either don’t care or are just naive enough to get sucked into Marty Brickey’s lies. Isn’t the government meant to take care of its residents as opposed to protecting what basically (in my opinion) amounts to scam artists?
When Mike [Turner] was met with questions as to how these debts will be resolved, he left the premises. He then came back that night after dark and changed the locks of the building. He barred employees from their workplace (personal belongings still inside) … Most notable was the climax yesterday where employees were ordered off their own workplace by a spokesperson of the Department of Commerce?!
It is alleged that the company has been operating illegally, with no regard for Australian corporate or tax laws for quite some time…
I just received a link to this rather incriminating writeup about IZ Corporate management tactics. It reeks of dishonesty, fraud and greed. For more information, see the story on Kotaku. It is a very interesting read, trust me.
Working at Big Collision Games in Ireland or signing a publishing deal with these shonks Interzone Entertainment? DON’T
Seems that things are hitting the fan with regards to Interzone Games back in Perth … My heart goes out to all the great guys (and girls) in Perth who are stilled owed money and are still having to deal with all this a year after I resigned.
What are you doing Mike? Seriously, what the hell are you doing? Please come to your senses and stop playing any role in this insanity. Anyone asking you to perpetrate illegal or questionable actions probably hasn’t got your best interests in mind.
A US owned gaming company has fled Australia, leaving unpaid employees and a massive tax bill. Apparently many staff have been working unpaid for months to allow their game to ship and hopefully the company to recover. Interzone’s Perth (Western Australia) office was created with the assistance of a state government grant.
From the various news snippets, it *looks* like these guys are chasing government hand-outs to fund their game in countries / areas who currently don’t have a games industry, and where the government is probably chomping at the bit to hand out money to companies coming in with IP.
[Mike Turner] 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.
Marty Brickey, Mike Turner, and Greg Chadwell cannot be trusted or counted on. Anybody applying for work at Big Collision Games in Ireland needs to know this. Anybody that is contracted by them needs to know this. Anybody entering into any future publishing deals with them needs to know this!
The stuff you havn’t heard is about the week long stakeout at the office involving current employees (I say current, because Interzone corporate hasn’t technically fired or shutdown the company yet, just stopped paying staff and locked the doors) and a former director of the company who has flown from the states to copy all the IP and piss off back to the US before the authorities catch up with them.
You may all be interested to know that Mike Turner was at the Interzone offices last night, up until midnight. He went in under cover of darkness and changed the locks on the server room and offices. Staff are now unable to get into their own workplace. Police were called. Footage was taken. It’s all very dramatic.