7:30 Report on Interzone Game's demise.
In news which is bound to agitate many ex-Interzone Games Perth staff, it looks like the game which was developed mostly at the Perth studio is hitting a new milestone in development.
Independent researcher / developer, Nick Lowe, has posted on his blog about Interzone Futebol reaching a closed beta status. As you may have heard, in early February this year, the bigwigs at Interzone saw fit to lock staff out of the Australian Government Grant-funded Perth studio and run off with the content which staff had diligently worked on while still being owed an extraordinary amount in wages and superannuation.
The plan was to complete the BigWorld Tech-based MMO soccer game at a new Dublin based studio called Big Collision Games, and it looks like they're making some progress. Interzone Futebol has been rebranded as Online Soccer Champions, and as spotted by Nick, they're using the same trailer for their launch that Interzone Games Perth released back in August 2009.
Unfortunately, it seems Interzone Games have managed to escape unscathed after the whole Interzone Perth incident, still owing $1.5m in outstanding debt (some $500,000 to staff and $1 million to the Australian Tax Office).
For the report, head on over to Nick's blog...
In the continuing saga of the Interzone debacle, Interzone employees have just released footage of a former Interzone manager attempting to unlawfully retrieve i.p 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.
Last week, Mike Turner flew in from the U.S with the aim of obtaining the Interzone Futebol content and bringing it back home. He attempted to sneak into the offices at night expecting little to no confrontation, however, it seems he was caught red handed by staff.
Between February 10th and February 12th, Employees of Perth-based Interzone Games attempted to prevent a former manager from looting the office of Intellectual Property ahead of an Australian Taxation Office foreclosure of the business.
To this date, no current staff at Interzone have received notification of their termination. It is illegal under Australian Workplace Law to "suspend" employees without pay.
For a longer version of the footage embedded above, please click here...
Mike Turner Confronted by Interzone Employees
On February 10th, 2010, Mike Turner arrived on the Premises of Interzone Pty., Perth. Minutes after he asked the producer in the office to take part in removal of intellectual property from the office (the Producer resigned on the spot), he came in to try and convince Interzone Employees to assist him. They were ready for him, with a camera, and a list of questions pertaining to outstanding payroll, superannuation/pension pay and tax debt, and how he and Marty Brickey / Greg Chadwell intended to resolve these issues.
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:
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.
Interzone Entertainment has opened the doors to Interzone Futebol's Closed Beta and is processing applications for prospective testers. The Closed Beta is being run in Australia by the company's Australian development studio, Interzone Games. Sign-ups are currently underway at http://www.interzonefutebol.com.au with testers already playing in regular daily matches.
Interzone Futebol is the company's debut title, and is the first online soccer game that supports fully playable 11-a-side teams, including player controlled goalkeepers. The final release of the game will feature full audio commentary and a soundtrack recorded by world-renowned DJ Paul Oakenfold.
Sign-ups are open at http://www.interzonefutebol.com.au. The developers are currently running scheduled events at 4pm and 7pm AWST. More details about the game can be found in the community section of the website at http://www.interzonefutebol.com.au/forum.
2-time Grammy nominee, scored Swordfish, had cues in The Matrix Reloaded, Collateral, Shrek II, and The Bourne Conspiracy video game, remixed for Madonna, U2, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake; Oakenfold now moves into massively multiplayer games
CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 28, 2008 – Paul Oakenfold, internationally known DJ with a stellar list of remix and film credits, and Interzone Entertainment, parent company of game development studio Interzone Games, today announced a partnership in which Oakenfold will score the studio’s upcoming MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) Interzone Futebol.
“In addition to Paul Oakenfold’s extraordinary and recognized music talent, one of his proven strengths is forging creative partnerships with the most successful stars and projects in the entertainment industry,” said Interzone Entertainment president Marty Brickey. “We’re excited that Paul has selected Interzone Entertainment as his first partner in the billion-dollar MMO industry.”
Paul Oakenfold’s film credits include Swordfish, The Matrix Reloaded, Die Another Day, The Bourne Identity, and Shrek II. Remix credits include, among many others, works for Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, U2, and Jennifer Lopez. Earlier in his career, before founding his own label, Perfecto Records, in 1989, he was an A&R rep at UK-based Champion label where he signed Will Smith (still part of Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince) and Salt N Pepa. He has also done the music for high profile TV commercials including Coca-Cola, Toyota, Motorola, and Saab. His creations earned him two Grammy nominations for “Best Electronic/Dance Album” in 2007 with “A Lively Mind” and in 2004 with “Creamfields.” He has been a fixture on the electronic charts throughout his career, and continues to be regarded as one of the most prominent figures in club culture. Additional information is posted at www.pauloakenfold.com.
Interzone Games have debuted the first trailer for Interzone Futebol, giving the world a glimpse of their MMOG soccer game. The press release below has more information on the trailer, so I won't repeat anything other than to say I totally dig the bright, colourful, and non-realistic visual style that they chose to go with. The fly-through of the various places in Rio de Janeiro show some top quality art work by the Interzoners. Oh, and I should add that Interzone Futebol is running on the locally developed BigWorld tech.
Interzone Futebol, a virtual world soccer MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) from Interzone Entertainment scheduled for a 4Q08 launch, makes its action debut today with the release of its first trailer at www.interzonefutebol.com and http://www.youtube.com/interzonefutebol.
The trailer takes gamers and soccer fans on a 90-second odyssey through the colorful 3D virtual world of Rio de Janeiro, shows crowds of Brazilians enjoying the beaches, shops, and urban life in the city’s Ipanema neighborhood, and culminates with an exciting, fast-paced soccer competition in a giant stadium.
"Our first trailer gives viewers a fun glimpse into the world of soccer and the rich life inside our virtual world," said Interzone Entertainment president Marty Brickey. "There is something fun for soccer players of all levels, and for non-soccer players who can enjoy a wide variety of activities we offer in Interzone Futebol."
About Interzone Futebol
Interzone Futebol is a virtual world game centered on futebol (soccer in the U.S.), the most popular sport in the world. The first city in this virtual world is Rio de Janeiro complete with neighborhoods, shops, social interaction with friends, and the club scene with the music which plays such an important role in the lives of youth culture in Brazil and around the world. Gamers control all positions – even the goal keeper which is unique in the world of futebol games – and enjoy fierce competitions on the pitch.
More details about upcoming international versions of Interzone Futebol will be released soon. For more information, visit www.interzoneentertainment.com and www.interzonefutebol.com. The game will be featured in Interzone Entertainment’s booth 104 at the Austin Game Developer Conference Expo in Austin, Texas, September 16-17, 2008.
(Chicago, ILLINOIS): Interzone Entertainment, parent company of Interzone Games and a BigWorld licensee, has announced its long-secret massively multiplayer online sports title, Interzone Futebol. The PC MMOG will first release in Portuguese for the Brazilian market, home to millions of avid futebol (soccer in the U.S.) fans and players, closely followed by international versions for worldwide release.
Interzone Futebol features team-based multiplayer matches, with every character on the pitch (playing field) controlled by a different player, including goalkeepers who, until now, have always been AI-controlled. During the match, players will improve their skills and unlock new skills and moves. Players will also improve their personal rankings and their team’s rankings, earn money through salary or sponsorship, and customize their character at creation, during game play, and by buying virtual items from Interzone’s online store.
Unlike other futebol games, Interzone Futebol will have a social space for players to explore and socialize in, and can find other people to play with. The game will also have an invitation system that allows players to invite their friends to try the game and, once friends are in-game, players will also be easily able to find them and invite them to join matches.
Interzone Entertainment president Marty Brickey explains why Interzone Futebol will debut first in Latin America. “Of 17 World Cup championships, 11 have been won by South American nations, with Brazil winning a record five World Cup titles. Soccer is a passion in Brazil, with perhaps 15 million players, a very high percentage of whom are in the 18-34 demographic, making it an ideal initial market for our game. We decided first to create Interzone Futebol in Portuguese so it will have the broadest appeal to this very large Portuguese speaking market in Brazil.”
The bulk of Interzone Games’ development is done by their staff of over 50 developers in their studio in Perth, Western Australia, and supported by their Live Team in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The company has recruited major game development talent from top studios including Microsoft, Interplay, Parallax, Lionhead, Cyberlore, and others.
“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.
Exact release dates have not been announced, but Interzone Futebol is planned for launch in 4Q08.
About Interzone Games
Interzone Entertainment is a publisher of massively multiplayer online games for a global audience. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and with studios in Australia, Brazil, and Asia, Interzone Games currently employees a staff of over 100 worldwide. Interzone is committed to the concept of fun and intends that this constant, almost maniacal focus on gameplay will bring a genuinely different kind of gaming to customers around the world.
Tired of the daily grind and want to be excited about coming in to work each day? Interzone Games is looking for talented people with the ability to work as part of a dynamic team in a productive and enjoyable work environment. If you are such a person, get in on the ground floor with a triple-A development studio with big plans, world-class talent, and world-class funding.
If you join us at our Perth development office you'll be at a studio:
* working with the guy who created the green falling numbers effect for the Matrix, the ex-Chief Scientist of Ai Research, and many other crazy-talented people;
* which is designed from the ground up using the latest Agile development methodologies to avoid crunch horror stories;
* which is fully funded;
* which offers free cookies (honest to goodness we have free cookies), a fridge full of free drinks and espresso coffee on tap.
** Job Description**
Interzone Games is looking for a flash developer with strong technical abilities and proven experience with actionscript.
* Design, develop, and test Flash based user interfaces, utilizing object oriented ActionScript.
* Follow style guides to ensure cohesive feel across all user interface screens.
* Ensure that best-practices are followed and that code is optimized.
* Participate in the software development process from design to release.
* 2+ years of professional experience in developing user interfaces utilizing Flash, PHP, CSS and XML
* 3+ years of development experience with Macromedia Flash, including object oriented ActionScript 1 and ActionScript 2; experience with multi-use environments preferred.
* Experience with source control (e.g. SVN) software.
* Experience with use of relational databases (MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server).
* Strong understanding of software development life cycle.
* Strong analytical and problem solving skills.
* Excellent written and verbal communications skills.
* Detail-oriented, well organized, quick learner with very strong technical aptitude and the ability to work concurrently on multiple projects.
Our teams are focused on producing and delivering powerful game experiences, rich, compelling storylines and captivating visuals with lush soundscapes but, at the end of the day, we don't rest until we deliver truly engaging gameplay. Interzone as a whole is committed to the concept of fun and we intend that this constant, almost maniacal focus on gameplay will bring a genuinely different kind of gaming to our customers around the globe.
* We believe in gameplay, not in grind.
* We believe in pushing technological boundaries, not technology as an end in itself.
* We believe in design innovation and exciting new ideas, not in confusing rules and arbitrary change.
* We believe in rich and engaging worlds, not in pointless detail.
* We believe in delivering better games, not licensing content and shipping "me-too" clones.
Interzone is producing the next generation of online games; they will be bigger, stronger and better - and YOU can be a part of it!