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Former Realtime staff are still awaiting redundancy payments

As many as 70% of the former staff of collapsed Dundee gaming company Realtime Worlds have still not received statutory redundancy payments, a former senior employee of the firm has told the Sunday Herald.

Nearly two months after Scotland’s largest gaming company fell into administration on August 17, following the failure of multiplayer online game All Points Bulletin (APB), it has also emerged that approximately 120 of around 210 former staff are preparing to pursue an employment tribunal claim in the coming weeks for their final month’s salary.

There is, meanwhile, speculation that former Realtime creative director Dave Jones, creator of hits such as Crackdown and Grand Theft Auto, is moving to the US. He has been linked with a senior post at North Carolina-based Epic Games, and is known to be a close friend of its chief executive Mark Rein.

Tahir Rashid, former lead artist on MyWorld, a Realtime project to build a 3D virtual platform, said that roughly 70% of staff still hadn’t been paid, including himself, after administrator Begbies Traynor lost his application form.

Rashid added: “They should have given everyone a 90-day consultation period. The [60] MyWorld staff were given a 30-day consultation before they were made redundant on August 13. The APB staff were only given an hour [on August 17].”

Another former staff member – who wished wanted to remain anonymous – said they knew various people still waiting to be paid, and said the situation was “frankly ridiculous”.

It is understood that the 53 staff retained to run APB for another few weeks while the administrator unsuccessfully attempted to find a buyer did receive their final month’s salary, but were not eligible for redundancy.

Begbies Traynor has stressed that it sent the staff applications for statutory redundancy to the Government’s Redundancy Payments Office (RPO) later in the week in which it was appointed administrator – although some former Realtime staff question whether it was this efficient. The RPO aims to settle payments within three to six weeks, averaging around four. On Tuesday it will be seven weeks since the company went into administration.

Despite the fact that APB was shut down in mid-September, it is understood that there are a number of companies interested in buying the game. Some are said to want to put it back into development for a few months, while others are said to be interested in the customer-relationship software. Begbies is currently carrying out due diligence on various offers and is planning to reach a decision in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, MyWorld was sold to US-based venture capital group New Enterprise Associates (NEA) for an undisclosed amount. NEA, which was one of Realtime’s backers, has linked up with former chairman Ian Hetherington and his new company, Kimble Operations, to oversee the move. Former Realtime staff claim it could become a big online property when it launches next year, with annual revenues in the “tens or even hundreds of millions”.

Realtime, which had raised $101m (£64m) to develop the two projects, had been betting that APB would become a million-selling game of the same order as World Of Warcraft. Despite five years in development, it sold little more than 100,000.

Formed in 2002, the company folded with trade creditors owed around £3m.

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