Sunday, 21 February 2010 01:43

US games company flees WA

By
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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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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