Home Development US games company flees WA

US games company flees WA

An American-owned gaming company appears to have fled Australia, taking its IP and code along with it, and leaving its employees in the lurch.

Interzone, whose local offices were based in Western Australia's Bentley Technology Park, and which was said to have received half a million dollars of government money as an incentive for setting up office in the state, reportedly owes a million dollars to the Australian Taxation Office and half a million to its employers. The company was developing a football game, Interzone Futebol, which it hoped to release to market before the forthcoming world cup in South Africa.

Interzone was set up as part of a 2007 agreement to found a development studio in Perth. This was supposed to be part of a bid to develop a state games industry and was expected to generate 300 jobs.

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. Staff are reported to have worked without pay for the last 18 months.

The Perth studio had 50 employees at its peak. There were three other development sites in the US, China and Brazil. The Chinese studio, based in Guangzhou, shut down in November last year and left its 60-odd staff out of work.

The WA Business News reported that the company's chief executive, Marty Brickey, last week issued a notice allowing only Turner, and anyone whom the latter authorised, to enter the company's Perth offices. Brickey acknowledged that Interzone owed money to its Perth staff and that this would be paid. Turner was expected to remove all the IP and return to the US; the plan apparently is to complete the game there and then obtain a fresh round of funding.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.