Interzone’s Football MMO: local conflicts

In 2008, we mentioned the upcoming release of Interzone Futebol, a sporting MMO with some promise.

Over the past week, issues between local developers employed at the Western Australian office of Interzone and the US-based head office came to a head when Interzone’s VP of Business Development, Mike Turner, was confronted by employees.

Game Developer blog Tsumea have a good wrap of events, and for lots more detail, this blog has it in spades (and the Interzone Games URL now redirects to the blog). Finally, Interzone CEO Marty Brickey has responded to the allegations made over at Kotaku, as Seamus Byrne broke the story there in a big way.

The WA developers created the piece below to illustrate the context of what has been going on:

Like any disputes around intellectual property, employee entitlements and job security, it can be near impossible to get a clear overall picture. The video in question shows a bunch of obviously frustrated / angry employees and a defensive CEO not wanting to answer questions on the spot to a camera. The only certainty is that once it has reached to this stage, things have broken down to a level where no-one is likely to see a beneficial outcome.

One of the least certain aspects is why the transfer of game assets from Australia to Collision Games in Ireland – although the touted financial issues would likely be the driving force. Nor is there any reaction from publisher Gamigo on the situation.

The wash-up locally for this, is that Interzone Futebol may still see the light of day, but whether those who’ve worked on it to date get to share in those results is far from certain and arguably very unlikely.

Interzone’s MMO: Interzone Futebol

Sporting virtual worlds are few and far between, so the announcement of a soccer MMO is likely to cause some interest. Interzone Futebol (futebol = soccer = football) will initially be released in Portuguese only but international versions are planned not long after.

The feature set touted is:

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.

There will also be social spaces and a game invitation system. If soccer is your passion and you can speak Portuguese, then you’ll be excited by this. If this MMO delivers an immersive sporting experience, then once the international release occurs you’re likely to hear a lot more about Interzone Futebol. You’ll be able to lay your hands on a virtual black and white ball in the fourth quarter of this year.

So what’s the Australian angle on this? A team of 50 developers worked on Interzone Futebol from Perth WA where it has a design studio located. They say soccer is one of the truly international games and this virtual version is truly an example of that.

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