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Team Bondi staff amongst creditors owed more than $1.4m

As company is liquidated, LA Noire developers losing tens of thousands of dollars

The creative staff behind hit game L.A. Noire make up the majority of creditors waiting for some form of repayment after the company went into liquidation last month, GamesIndustry.biz can reveal.

More than AUD $1.4 million is owed to over 40 creditors according to legal documents filed by administrators deVries Tayeh - a company that is charging $55,000 in fees for winding up the business.

Individuals working in programming, design, production and gameplay - as well as an intern - are owed between $1600 and $99,000. Studio boss Brendan McNamara is also owed more than $102,000, records show.

With the company being liquidated it's increasingly unlikely that staff will be repaid any significant percentage of the outstanding amount.

While most of the debt outstanding is to personal creditors only a handful of businesses are listed, including motion capture firm Depth Analysis, also co-founded by McNamara. Depth Analysis continues as a going concern, although co-director Vicky Lord, who also acted as office manager at Team Bondi, has had her position terminated.

Although Team Bondi's LA Noire is one of the biggest commercial and critical successes of the year, following release it became embroiled in controversy.

While the game took over seven years to create, staff turnover was incredibly high, with the company and McNamara accused of overworking staff in a perpetual state of crunch.

Emails released and documented on GamesIndustry.biz also highlighted the souring of Team Bondi's relationship with publisher Rockstar, which eventually took equal credit in the development of the ambitious game and is now thought to own the IP.

As the studio collapsed in on itself, a number of staff left to join production house Kennedy Miller Mitchell and subsidiary Dr. D Studios, currently working on animated movie Happy Feet 2. It's rumoured KMM has also already bought a number of Team Bondi assets.

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Latest comments (14)

James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
So... is this due to overrunning the budget given to them by Rockstar? Or is it through lack of royalties after release from Rockstar that they were unable to pay their staff?

I understand these things can get confusing but I thought LA Noire was Team Bondi's property before Rockstar took them under their wing... Maybe the IP was part of the deal?
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College5 years ago
Again, controversy surrounds L.A. Noire...

I highly doubt those staff owed payments will be received what they should, as the company has since sold its assets and is in the process of liquidation, doesnt look promising which is saddening.

@ James - Rockstar stepped in and helped with the production and publishing but the releationship soon soured between them due to [as reported] Team Bondi being stubborn on certains aspects. The majority of the problems came before Rockstar as they were an independnet before flirting with Sony before deciding to go multi platform.
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Tim Kitevski Field 3D Developer, Immersive Technologies5 years ago
If this situation is anything like other administration circumstances, than I would dare say most of the employees benefits will be covered by the Australian Government project GEERS. Can't recall what it stands for but its basically a government funded fall-back program to protect employees to make sure they receive their entitled benefits. Assuming this is applicable, only actual "Full-Time Employees" are covered, anyone who worked as an independent contractor is likely screwed. (Speaking from experience).
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Show all comments (14)
Ian Jarvis artist 5 years ago
It speaks volumes that LA Noire was hugely successful and yet the developers that did all the hard work are getting screwed over. Surely Rockstar have some responsibility to pay those guys.
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Gareth O'Neill Environment Artist (Contract), Ubisoft Reflections5 years ago
Sounds the same as when i was made redundant at Midway. Had to claim my Redundancy back from the Government which took several months, and the last bit of creditor owed money I received was about 100 last month (only took 2 and a half years to get that haha).
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Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design5 years ago
Stay classy, games industry.
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Will Anderson Editor-in-Chief 5 years ago
How is it that this game made so much money and yet be so broke? Something isn't adding up here. I also find it interesting that McNamara is owed money according to the books, as well as a company that he founded. I think someone needs to take a really close look at their books.
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Tony Johns5 years ago
With Australia suffering the problems that UK developers also suffer from, it does not surprise me.

I just want to get to Japan so I can make some Japanese anime games, enough said about what I think about Australian Game Development.

With De Blob's Blue Tongue Studios gone I don't want to work in an industry that just wants to make me work on boring lisenced games that won't sell to people who know about their games.
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Michael How Snr Level Designer, Jagex Games Studio5 years ago
They may not even get redundancy as the australian industry laws are horrible, only paying out individuals with a computer science degree under skilled labour laws or some dodgey equivelent that they basicaly use to get out of paying you. They will probably only get their annual leave if its gone into liquidation. I feel for these guys. Never a fun time, specially having poured 7 years into the development of a game and working insane hours to get it out. A big thanks for coming, adiose, as payment for their work :( Good luck to those effected. The UK is definately back on the up in some parts and a worthy destination for Devs.
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Alex Hutchinson Creative Director, Ubisoft Montreal5 years ago
Who says the game made money? Selling a lot of copies and making money are not the same thing.
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Steven Wemyss Senior QA Engineer, Avalanche Studios5 years ago
Ian, Rockstar paid them for years, hell Sony also paid them a helluva lot prior to that...They went bust because they took too long to develop their last game that they blew most of their cash, the game would have had to sell a crapload to make any sort of profit over and above what Rockstar had already paid them. Add to that the fact that they had such bad relationships with Rockstar and their reputation was tarnished over the crunch thing so much so that they had major difficulties getting another publisher involved...it's not hard to see why this independent studio went under.

The reason why we're getting a PC port of LA Noire is quite probably because Rockstar have yet to make much, if any, of a profit from the game due to it's prolonged development cycle.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts5 years ago
When your Dev lifecycle is 7 years making a profit is always going to be a challenge! still a massive shame for everyone invovled!
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 5 years ago
You people are naive.

This is the entertainment industry. It's accounting magic.

There is no such thing as a "profit" in the entertainment industry. One hit goes to pay all the losses out there. It's creative accounting. (In the film industry they call points of profit "monkey points" - because only suckers would take them.)

What you want is point-of-sale gross revenue, and your salary.

You need to unionize if you want to see a level of compensation commensurate with your input.
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Joe Schultz Director, ByDesign Games5 years ago
Team Bondi
noun [ treated as sing. or pl. ]
an Australian group of game makers formed to make one game in 7 years, L.A. Noire, quickly closing shop after release, while leaving most of its' developers without money owed.
See Also:
Clusterf#@!
Brendan McNamara
Megalomania

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joe Schultz on 7th October 2011 8:09pm

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