Interzone folds owing $1.5m wages, taxes

The boss of multinational computer games developer Interzone closed the company's lead development studio in Bentley last night amid claims the company owes more than $1.5 million in unpaid wages, superannuation and taxes.

Despite this about 10 Interzone employees remain outside the Technology Park premises protesting the treatment they've received, claiming they are owed more than $500,000 in unpaid superannuation and back-pay.

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QF Tang
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.

Cherelle Pendragon
All I have to say is that it is about time that this came to a head. My husband worked on this game until financial difficulties forced him to find more work, and the company still owe him a lot of money in unpaid wages and super. I can't imagine how hard it has been for the other people who endured where my husband had to leave. As to the promise by Marty that they are finding funds to repay the unpaid wages, all I have to say is that all of us associated with Interzone know from bitter experience that those words were common from him, and not always fulfilled.

Richard Maxwell
I was initially employed by Interzone in February 2008 and offered a 457 sponsorship visa. Due to a lack of payment of salary and superannuation, I was forced to resign in November 2009. Since my visa was tied to my job, I had to leave the country within 4 weeks and was owed over $15,000 in unpaid entitlements. My return flight home to Britain had to come out of my own pocket, despite Interzone being responsible for the cost of the trip as part of the employment visa agreement with the Australian Immigration department. Requests for payment were repeatedly ignored and I was forced to take the matter to the WA Magistrates Court while looking for a job back in the UK. Interzone's directors are still yet to respond to the court case and I am still owed more than $15,000. The worst part of the experience was having to leave behind such a friendly and close-knit team of colleagues in Perth, where I had hoped to relocate permanently. I am shocked that so many of the government agencies we contacted so long ago to help us (ATO, ASIC, Fair Work Ombudsman to name a few) were able to do so little to protect our basic rights as employees.

Connie Davis
I was interviewed for the QA Manager position in February, 2008. At that time, the schedule had the game shipping in June, 2008. I told them flatly that it was not possible, given that there had been no testing of the game until that point, the game wasn't in a playable state at that point and no consideration had been given to beta testing, hardware scaling testing to full server populations, managing logins and revenue stream, etc. (At that point they weren't even certain of the business model.) I told them they would need at least a year from that date to actually ship the game. They ended up hiring someone with a sunnier outlook *nods to Richard* and rapidly moving the shipping date, first to October 2008, then to February 2009. By all accounts the QA set-up was producing very good results and Richard was doing a fantastic job managing the myriad locations. Then they started losing people they weren't paying, including my talented Designer ex-husband. As you might expect, things have devolved since then. There were outward expressions of support from upper management - anyone in danger of actually being evicted or falling behind on their utilities had first call on the small amounts of money coming into the company. Occasional windfalls would catch everyone up a few weeks but most of the staff averaged up to 4 weeks behind on pay for over a year. Can you imagine supporting a family (or even trying to plan a date) when you are actually pretty sure payday is going to come again with no money? Can you imagine the morale issues as QA became non-existent, people left without being replaced but the same work output was expected of the remaining (unpaid) staff? It has now dragged out another entire YEAR in that state. It is a testament to the dedication and fortitude of the few who were able to hang on till the bitter end, still being told that the big cheque was coming any day, everyone was going to get paid in full, the game would ship and they would be heroes the company would remember forever. Interzone: Pay your debts in Australia and cut all current employees in on royalties from the game you expect to ship via Big Collision in Ireland. Without them, you would have nothing to market, nothing to attract the investors that have allowed you to set up an entire new studio. It's really the least you can do.

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