The West Australian and WA Business News reports that U.S based Interzone Games have locked down their lead development studio in Perth on Thursday. Ten of the remaining Interzone staff were picketing at the front of their former workplace in protest of unpaid wages and superannuation as far back as 18 months, after being locked out of the premises and left unable to retrieve personal belongings. Segments of a notice at the entry of the studio placed by Interzone Vice President of business operations, Mike Turner, reads:
We accept that we owe you wages and are currently determining the amount owed and are working diligently to raise funds in the USA that will be distributed according to the priority as set out by law.
Please note the only person allowed on or within the premises of Interzone is Vice President of Business Operations Mike Turner and anyone he so nominates or brings with himself onto the premises
NO ONE ELSE IS PERMITTED TO ENTER THE PREMISES.
ALL ACCESS IS HEREBY REVOKED AND ANY ENTRY WHATSOEVER WILL CONSITUTE TRESPASSING.
It's understood that 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.
News about the closure has spread to Perth print and TV media with a strong emphasis made on the local Government's $500,000 grant for the studio, and the $1 million dollars owing to the ATO. The following report (below) appeared on the ABC TV about the situation...
As mentioned in the ABC TV report, Interzone Games had studios in China and Brazil, and both studios have been closed down already. The manager from the IZ Guangzhou, China studio has posted in the comments area of the WA Business News news item to report that the recent complaints of unpaid wages were not isolated to the Perth studio. From WA Business News...
I was the manager of IZ Guangzhou, China, we had about 60 staff in the studio.
The studio was forced to dismiss suddently in Nov 2009, without any notification in advance.
IZ owed the GZ studio staff more than US$450,000 and never paid a penny till now.
A colleague's father was severely sick and died later cause not enough money to be treated.
As for myself, besides months of salary owed by IZ, I had also loaned more than US$8,000 from
my own pocket to IZ, in order that the studio runs normally, cause I was told that the wire from
IZ was coming, I would be certainly paid ......all is a lie!
In my more than 15 years of career time, I've never come across such situation, such boss - Marty.
All the studio staffs should unite together to protect our benefits.
The traditional Chinese New Year is coming in two days, the honest GZ staffs expected to have a great new year after getting back their owed payment. But their dream is broken again, no penny is sent to them so far after more than a year's waiting.
Former Interzone games staff have been cautioning staff of the newly formed studio based in Ireland, Big Collision Games, which will be continuing the development of Interzone Futebol that they may find themselves in a similar predicament further down the line.
The West Australian has received a response from Robert J. Spencer who helped set up Interzone Games in Perth. Robert, who has not been with the studio for two years, was quoted as saying "It was my baby and this is very saddening".
You can find the articles on Interzone Perth's closure at: