We've had to pull down our news item on Interzone Games last Saturday as our tip off was just too early to report. The information provided then was premature for when it was posted, and Interzone staff members were right to respond that it didn't reflect the current situation at the Perth studio. The tip off was true, but things were set to happen only a short time later.
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 based on the latest builds from the local studio.
Tim Colwill, former World Designer for Interzone Games in Perth, has provided Kotaku AU with an extraordinary run down of how the Perth based game studio reached its current dire state, where highly dedicated staff members were promised a lot, continued to work unpaid, but were consequently exploited and owed a substantial amount in wages and superannuation. The amount estimated owing is $500,000 to staff, and $1 million to the ATO.
The damning report makes some serious allegations towards the Chicago-based parent of breaking a variety of Australian laws, from not paying superannuation to trading without a resident director.
To finish it off, Tim describes the ultimate cost of what this whole mess means for the Perth games industry....
As an unfortunate side effect of this, it is almost certain that the games industry in Perth will be irreparably damaged. The Western Australian government sunk $500,000 into Interzone to get it started, and with the studio now being liquidated, it is a huge disincentive for them to provide any further support to any other companies that might wish to base their operations here.
Read the entire story over at Kotaku AU.
*** Update, staff have been locked out of the studio. More details here.