Way back in ye 2007 after I arrived back in Perth from Japan, I did some looking around for a job. One place I got an interview with was Perth’s ‘flagship’ game development studio Interzone games. The position was a junior programmer and the pay rate was going to be an epic 13 bucks an hour. Slightly small I know, but it being games programming, I didn’t care.
While the guys were all cool and they were impressed with my demo of RPG-X, they told me that without being awesome at Python scripting, there’s not a lot I could really do for the company. They said I could come back later after I’ve learnt Python and try again, but the very next day, I got a job at Tourism WA (which paid a LOT more) so I let it rest.
Turns out I dodged a major bullet there.
As of this week, according to information published by Kotaku Australia, Interzone is in serious debt, having not paid its employees for several months and owing the Australian Tax Office more than $1.5 million dollars. The company is being liquidated as I write this, and come this time next week, probably won’t even exist.
In a nutshell, while all of the local employess are getting fired (without being paid what they’re owed), the American bigwigs are swooping in and grabbing all of the code and assets from the studio and then fleeing the country back to America where another company is apparently going to continue development, whilst completely ignoring all of the Perth developers.
So yeah… what was pretty much Perth’s first foray into professional games development has turned into a complete farce. Upcoming game developers who poured their hearts and souls into the games there for countless hours, as well as apparently for zero pay, and they’ve been repaid by getting canned, and then screwed over.
In addition, since the government channeled a pretty substantial amount of funding into getting Interzone set up, it’s looking like they’ve decided never to support setting up a games studio here again. This is even more of a shame as there were rumors that Ubisoft was considering setting up shop here for a while. :'(
So it pretty much looks like it’s goodbye to professional games development in Perth for the time being. After this, I doubt any other companies are going to even bother looking at Perth.
I’m also feeling really sorry for the employees of Interzone. No one deserves to be treated like that, I hope they do eventually end up getting compensated well for their work. I also wish them all the best of luck in the future.
I’m also hoping, praying that this might blow over in time. If a lot of indie developers start to crank out awesome games in Perth, and a few indie studios can be established, then maybe, just maybe we might get lucky in future.
Either way, today was a pretty depressing day because of this.