Big World Announces BIG New Studio


MELBOURNE - Monday 24 November, 2008 - John De Margheriti, CEO of Big World announced last Friday at Game Connect AP that, as a result of the rapid expansion of the company, it is moving into a large new purpose-built facility at Wentworth Park in Sydney.

"Our new facility will allow us to expand fourfold from our current headcount, which will put us in good stead in the coming years. We are also very happy to be co-located with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, which will further add to the creativity of our space," Mr De Margheriti commented.

Big World's new facility, which will cover over 1000 square metres has literally been designed to embody a creative, innovative working environment.

"We want to make this the most fun and interesting research development studio in Sydney. Our new facility is being purpose built for our needs as a development company and it will be a place where our team is inspired to take the next steps for the company. Work should be completed by the end of January," he concluded.


Anonymous's picture

So Micro forte sacks a heap of people, then they make this announcement...

did they even offer the people they sacked a spot in sydney?

note: Micro forte & big world are both John De Margheriti's babies.

Anonymous's picture

JD also owns the Academy of Interactive Entertainment.... what a BIG announcement....

Anonymous's picture

bigworld =12 fps on a dual core processor wooooo

Anonymous's picture

a BIG EMPTY studio overlooking Wentworth Park Dog Racing Track. mmm the Carmacks will be queuing up to work there.

What a retard this guy is - i think he's starting to believe his own bullshit.

Anonymous's picture

Pretty common knowledge now that John De Margheriti is dodgy and treats his staff very poorly. You'd think with the Australian dev community being so small he wouldn't be able to continue functioning, but there you go. We're all stupid I guess.

Anonymous's picture

They prolly live off graduates, and other people just wanting to break into the industry ( or move here )

it's always hard to get that first job...

Anonymous's picture

and government grants.....

Anonymous's picture

I've worked at various companies in the Australian game industry, and admittedly is was dubious about working at Microforte due to the perceived reputation of JohnD. But after working here for a fair while, I've totally flipped my opinion of him. Seriously he keeps the staff in the loop as much as possible, and he is very approachable as a boss and open to lots of questions.

Sadly the track record is what sticks out the most, and yes it does look bad from the outside. Its been a bumpy road and track record wise, things always end up picking up in the end.

Its a good company with people that get along, so I hope things work out well in the long term.

Anonymous's picture

"Sadly the track record is what sticks out the most".

Yes, sadly reality wins over bullshit and good intentions.

Anonymous's picture

True, but look at it this way, all that "bullshit" etc has still kept a lot of people employed over the years. Sure, some of them get let go in a "down cycle" but anyone who can keep a business going for such a long time, gainfully epmploying others is doing something right.

Why the hate on Margheretr (sp)? I understand they've had to let people go over the years and again just recently, but has he ripped anyone off or slept with someone's wife?

Anonymous's picture

MF has been going through ups and downs for almost it's whole life. So there will be quite a large number of people that will have been burnt by them.

i'm not sure why JDM is hated so much, it could be just created by axed employees.

Anonymous's picture

The two-faced nature of this particular announcement, and its timing, is incredibly insensitive to anyone who has just been made redundant.

The announcement mentions that the studio has had tremendous growth, when in fact many people have been recently let go. When other companies like EA and THQ do the same thing - they at least front up about it, and acknowledge the pain that people are going through.

I realize public companies have different strategies, but the original announcement is pretty rich for a so called Christian, for whom "God really motivates most of the things I do".

Anonymous's picture

to manage to get kicked out of the industry association he founded.

Anonymous's picture

John? Ripped someone off? Ummm remember the AGDC? Ever found out how much he was paying himself for sitting on his arse for that one?

Give him a half a chance and he'll rip you off, quick as blinking. As for sleeping with anyone's wife what with the slime the guy exudes I'd hope women would have more sense, but you never know.

SamW's picture

So...It’s now been 12 years since these untruthful comments were made possibly by disgruntled MF Canberra employees or other employees that have been let go during downturns.

I'm a long term “insider” and I want to set the record straight. I've taken the time to write this long story because I hate reading untruths, especially about JDM as he is very misunderstood.

I've witnessed most of what I'm about to write and while JDM has never spoken publicly about the events I’m going to disclose, I believe it’s time that people who truly wish to know the truth about JDM and what he has done.

I believe JDM is unique in the Australian industry. He quietly suffers indignations and untruths, keeping many things to himself. Occasionally he reveals a tiny window of what has occurred. By his actions I have learned to appreciate that while he is by no means a perfect person, he is a wonderful, honest man.

He has always kept his word with me and others around him. I became financially secure by trusting him, and I stuck with him from the time he gave me the opportunity to work for him, all these many years until JDM left the company in 2012 after he sold his business to Wargaming and ensured that his closest friends had well paid jobs and security of employment.

All this information is verifiable if you do your research, by asking people who have worked for JDM, as well as various folks involved in the episodes I will shortly describe.

It’s true that MF and BigWorld had their ups and downs. Most game developers experience this and MF/BigWorld was no exception. It’s how JDM handles these distributions that shows his approach is rather remarkable.

When Citizen Zero, probably the world's first party MMO development deal for Microsoft on the original Xbox, and then subsequently cancelled when it was near to completion, this cancellation was linked to all the other projects that were cancelled at the time, due to Microsoft deciding to cancel all their first party development efforts for Xbox due to a shift in development focus on, at the time, the unannounced Xbox360. Microsoft deemed that reworking Citizen Zero would have been prohibitive and went with new products. I’m explain this to demonstrate the behind the scenes that occur in the industry to demonstrate that JDM did not just fire people out of malice. He fired people because he would not be able to continue to employ them. The Microsoft cancellation happens suddenly without warning. Likewise the firing of staff occurred quickly as well.

Microsoft cancelled some $200M worth of projects at various stages of development and its VP Ed Freese , was also let go If I remember right. So this was not the teams fault. Just a Microsoft business decision that JDM had to deal with and the team were not happy about. JDM had to lay off the majority of the Sydney studio. JDM was very upset about this and there were tears at the Sydney studio as a top international team was dissolved, leaving only 7 or so people left in the company. JDM somehow managed to rebuild the business and launched BigWorld from this collapse. He gave shares to the remaining members, asking them to help him rebuild the shattered business as his venture backed investors still believed in the business and he simply would not give up.

He gave shares to this loyal group he felt were super talented, trusted him and really knew him. The ones who did not stab him in the back. Later, he promised future shares to others, who trusted his word. He delivered. He made dozens of us wealthy and some of us quite rich.

Do you know anyone in another Australian studio that has shared their wealth like this ? One thing I learned was that JDM was very generous, and at times this was one of his faults as he sometimes rewarded people a little bit too much, as not everyone participated as strongly as they led JDM to believe.

Similarly, the Canberra studio that developed Fallout Tactics decided to do a coup-d'état and form their own Canberra studio (Dropbear Games) because they mistakenly thought that Interplay's CEO Brian Fargo was going to let them make Fallout Tactics 2. Dripbear Games offered JDM and MF shareholders 20% of their new company for the MF technology so they could build the Fallout Tactics 2 sequel, they rang MF's Chairman Roger Buckeridge and told him the team did not like JDM, that Fallout Tactics was “their game” made through their efforts and they had decided they were going to go out all on their own to develop the sequel under their new studio. MF’s venture capital shareholders demanded that JDM sort this mess out.

Much later, when JDM arrived back to MF with a signed contract for Fallout Tactics 2, they realised that this ambitious move by his staff was not really supported by Brian Fargo CEO of Interplay and his VP Brian Christian. Interplay was aghast that a junior staffer at Interplay gave the impression to Dropbear Games that they could go at it alone, and would be given the sequel rights. John returned with the sequel rights, as well as the right to develop Fallout Online.

While JDM told me that he toyed with the idea of laying off many who were treacherous, he decided that his Christian faith required him to forgive and be the better man. He was also very astute. He wanted to know what had brought this whole situation about. What had motivated a whole studio to do such a treacherous thing ? Who were the people that led this revolt and cause many in the studio to follow ? People he loved and cared about ? Many years later I learned that he had the teams hard drives copied overnight. The originals were sent to a security company and all the wiped internal emails that the team send to each other were restored and his read the whole sorry sage. JDM was able to tell who were the original conspirators and all that had transpired. He never let on that he knew everything.

He approached each one of the conspirators that led the coup and asked them about their involvement. Some lied to him saying that they were not directly involved. He did not confront them. He just wanted to know their perspective and was amazed about the untruths told to him face to face. He was able to get a good understanding about each person at the studio and where they really though of him.

He said that quite a few of his staff said they were not really involved but the restored emails told otherwise. JDM never confronted the individuals, and forgave them.

Unfortunately the teams shame was too much for some. One Lead Artist (Parish Rodgers) said to JDM "I can't look you in the eye, and I need to move on", or words to that effect. JDM was disappointed but understood that many in the team were poorly led by their peers into this situation and accept s his resignation. JDM and Parrish still remain friends. Some of the other conspirators learned many many years later that JDM never spoke badly about them and kept this entire incident away from the media, so they had great careers. Some however were resentful that JDM had outwitted them and began a campaign of lies to discredit him. JDM never spoke badly about them and hoped that one day they would realise what he had done for them.
JDM learned that the reason for the coup was that much of the profits made from Tactics were used to support the Sydney BigWorld team who were still in early development of the technology. They wanted these profits kept for the Canberra team to utilise for other games they would develop. The team did not appreciate that MF had a venture capital Chairman and shareholders who disagreed. After all, they had invested some $5m of their money to develop the BigWorld technology and all the board members believed this was the future in terms of an ROI on their investment. So JDM wisely did as his board asked him to and put everything MF could spare into BigWolrd, their future.

An interesting thing about Fallout Tactics that most people don’t know is that the project was actually cancelled mid way. During the mid point of the project, JDM had a conversation with Brian Christian, the Interplay VP in charge of the project. JDM was asked by Brian what JDM though of the last game build. JDM admitted that there was little tactics in the game and did not think that game was very strong. JDM was not as focused on the monthly builds as he should have been and placed too much trust on the team holding onto the vision he and Interplay shared.

Brian C told JDM that he was correct. Interplay had decided that Tactics was not working out. The project was officially cancelled but if JDM could deliver a new build in 4 weeks to Interplay that showed promise, at MF’s expense, then the project would be reinstated. JDM never told this to the team as he did not want to worry them and felt that the team could rise to the challenge if the design could be altered in time. However he had to deal with an internal ego matter with it’s game designer.

He paid all of his staff for the month (instead of letting the team go and accepting defeat), he brought in his trusted lead designer Paul McGuiness from Sydney to Canberra and with his help they worked with the game’s designer , (whom I believe caused the problem in the first place as his vision for the game was a mix of RPG and tactics which just did not work). Paul McGuiness was never acknowledged as the person responsible for fixing the game, while the Lead Designer on the project got all the glory. JDM wanted it this way as he cared about his team and wanted them to gain all the glory for what became eventually became a spectacular hit, a No.2 US Chart game at the time. Not bad for a game that was cancelled !

JDM understood the ego issue in his Canberra team had asked Paul not to take credit so as to keep team harmony. Paul consented to this strategy, largely so that the team would remain cohesive. JDM thought that the whole team were his friends, after all, many were AIE graduates. Unfortunately once Fallout Tactics came out and was a commercial success, the two US marketing executives based in Canberra who were hired by MF to promote the game only helped to inflate the egos of the team and the coup was born.

So after the coup, the team could not look JDM in the eye. Many left. Some are still upset that he outmanoeuvred them. Some still hate him. Some came to learn how gracious he was to them and remained his friend.

JDM and Interplay's CEO Brian Fargo go back to the early years of EA when Brian was working on Bard's Tale and JDM was working on Demon Stalkers, when EA was only a few hundred people big and was yet to IPO and become the huge company it is today.

Some of these ex MF Canberra devs started talking behind JDM’s back and left the studio when they secured their own employment elsewhere. Only one person remained at the Canberra MF Studio, who attended the coup meetings but decided he would not betray JDM and remained loyal to JDM. He was later rewarded with shares in MF which later made him somewhat wealthy when BigWorld was sold off to Wargaming.

JDM rebuilt the Canberra MF studio, and in later years when the sale of BigWorld was completed, the new studio called Dreamgate, focused on mobile games. The team has its ups and downs and when projects got cancelled JDM had to reduce his staff count or close the company. At this point JDM was using his own money to develop New IP for the studio. The team had no projects from publishers. He used his own money to give people jobs for many many years. Eventually after many millions of dollars of JDM’s money, no revenues, the team was let go.

During the sale process of BigWorld, JDM was concerned for his Canberra team, and it’s fiture under Wargaming. After all, the brains behind BigWorld were all in Sydney.

There was only one engineer from the Canberra team and one QA manager that was offered a job working at BigWorld in Sydney. This is largely due to the fact that the Canberra team were of average programming abilities, with only one programmer who was talented enough to join the Sydney team of top level software engineers. He actually moved to Thailand or Koran (I can’t remember) and worked from there if I remember right .

The reason why so few were transferred is because the Sydney simply rejected the Canberra team and JDM agreed that very few would be given the opportunity to move to Sydney. In essence they never measured up to the excellence of the Sydney team. Sydney was not about game development but tech development. Most of the programmers I was told did not gain the approval of the senior engineering team in Sydney.

When things improved JDM would rehire in Canberra and he always spoke about trying to rebuild the Canberra team as he lived in Canberra and wanted to continue to make games. However, this was a sad stage for Canberra. The Fallout coup d'état really decimated JDM's ability to rebuild. Many were graduates of the AIE who were provided entry level jobs and rose to senior ranks with senior pay. Some would have been great software engineers and would have easily been given jobs at BigWorld, except that they left. JDM became very busy with BigWorld and simply did not have the time to focus on the Canberra studio so this did not help.

The Canberra team over the years burned through many many millions of dollars and was never able to make a game that was of sufficient quality to ship. JDM was very frustrated that BigWorld’s profits were wasted by the teams inability to deliver. Canberra’s Producer and the Lead Designer just could not deliver games that were of commercial success. Four games were developed and cancelled prior to release. JDM remained loyal to the team. MF did not ship games for many years. In fact the financial success of BigWorld insulated them.

Some of the team members wanted the mobile games to be shipped but they did not understand that considerabley more money would have to be spent to market these games and JDM's experience and his industry contacts advised him just to cut his loses and start on another game, which he did. The Sydney team was very frustrated that JDM would continue to support the Canberra team out of the profits of BigWorld. So there was always tension between the two teams.

After MF was sold to Wargaming, the team was kept on to make these four mobile games which were never shipped.

BigWorld was JDM's real baby. He diverted as much cash as possible to this subsidiary as he believe that MMO's were going to be a huge market. After all, if you search ( you will realise that the man actually patented the concepts of MMO's. I believe that the term MMOG was created by the BigWorld company, possibly by JDM himself, but I don't know.

Most people do not realise that he is one of world's pioneers in this field, possibly the inventor of this category. Certainly, his BigWorld Technology was the world's first MMO middleware and the way he approached the key design element of high scalability, is the key to some of his present wealth. He said that at times he had to argue with his Sydney team who wanted to improve BigWolrd’s 3D engine to better compete. However JDM knew that his financial resources could not sustain a market battle on 3D and decided wisely to focus on the server backend technology which ultimately was his success.

BigWorld needed top engineers that could build the world’s most scalable technology. Many thought he would not succeed. Not only did JDM and the Sydney BigWorld succeed but he build a company with representative offices in Austin, Moscow, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and Suzho. Which Australia development company can say that they have ever achieve this level of success ? Why was he able to do it ? Because he had build a large company full of people that would follow him anywhere, and we did. And what a great ride it was.

At one point some 60% of China's MMO's that used middleware, were made using the BigWorld Technology. It was more popular that the Unreal Engine, but you would not know this unless you lived in China at the time. In fact BigWorld would eventually run its own "Game Development Conference" focusing on its engine. Developers all over China and Taiwan would attend. JDM would throw annual parties in Shanghai and each year they became more and more ambitious.

Some ask how did he achieve 60% of China !! Well, just one of BigWorld's clients, NetEase, accounted for some 40% of the market as dozens upon dozens of licenses were sold to them and they represented 40% of the Chinese market. NetEase became a secret shareholder of MF !! They were so impressed with BigWorld that they stopped developing their own engines and went with BigWorld but this was kept quiet for many many years because JDM gave his word to the CEO of NetEase, Ding Lai, so that Netease would have a competitive advantage.

The World of Tanks game as most people know is a world-wide hit, with something like 50M subscribers. I don’t know the exact numbers as JDM was always secretive about this. The game at its peak has something like 1.1M concurrent users I believe. No other client-server game technology has ever achieved this number of concurrent users on a single large scale server system

I remember Wargaming winning a Guinness Book record once it went over 110k users. When World of Tanks hit 1.1M concurrent users, blasting their own world record 10 times over, there was no point chasing another GB record, as it was well past all other technologies.

JDM sold BigWorld to Wargaming and became ultra rich. Not satisfied, the put US$1.8M in an escrow account for his ex-BigWolrd staff as a reward that they would receive 18 months after the sale. Typically its the new owner that puts their own money in escrow to encourage employees of the purchased company to remain with the new owners. Wargaming did not want to do this, and JDM wanted to make sure that his staff would be incentivised to remain at Wargaming so he paid for this giant carrot. They was no legal or tactical reason for JDM to do this. He was fully paid out at the sales of his company at so there was no need for this generosity. JDM did this so that Wargaming would learn later, that he knew that the top engineers would be immediately approached and possibly be snatched by companies like Google. JDM wanted Wargaming to succeed and his staff to have prominent roles. They were joining Wargaming at its infantacy and would become key leaders in its future. JDM was correct in that we now have around 100 staff and the company employs 4,500 people !

Prior to the sale of BigWorld, JDM also gave out shares worth 10’s of millions of dollars to his many loyal employees. Many were promises he personally made to people and he honoured each one of them. I know because I was one of these people and I have a wonderful house because of his generosity.

When JDM left, we held a huge party. We were so grateful. No other person in the Australian games industry ever took care of his employees better than this man. Many of us paid off our houses, and some purchased their new house for the first time! Even his PA received a bonus.

Now let’s talk about the GDAA. Over the years JDM revealed what really happened but he has never spoken in public about it. This tells you a lot about this man.

He created the association in 1999 and with his money and the AIE money. The original GDAA constitution prohibited the GDAA from running its own conference. So why did JDM create the GDAA and prohibit it from running its own conference ? Why did the AIE set up and own the Australian Game Developers Conference (AGDC)?

When he explained to me his reasoning, I understood that he had incredible insight and wisdom, wanting to see if he could create an association that would lobby for change and not get caught up in egos, nepotism and looking only after "its own". He ultimately failed, but he tried.

JDM explained that when his friend Chris Crawford created the original San Francisco based Computer Game Developers Conference, he said that Chris saw CGDC became a major issue for the fledgling group of people who were in essence an unincorporated association. Egos, bribes and nepotism took hold and it lost its soul, as it served the privileged few.

In San Francisco the CGDC continued to grow. It became famous. The board of the conference betrayed its Chris Crawford vision, and the newly elected board sold it to Miller Freeman (who then onsold it, eventually owned by UBM) . Each board member was paid $500,000. The founders who created it were given $1000. Christ wished JDM best wished and doubted that JDM could avoid the eventual egos and greed for power and recognition.

JDM also said to me that he saw in the CGDC conference, a wonderful place full of education, low $50 fees and once it was sold, it became a for profit machine that would now charge over $1000 for entry level tickets. JDM wanted to have an association that would focus only on lobbying the Federal Government for the the equivalent of the 40% Producer Offset that the the film industry enjoyed. He hoped that this might give Australian game developers the opportunity to develop their own IP at a time when large game publishers controlled the industry, making Australian studios effetely just sweat shops. JDM wanted the games industry to have an equal playing field with film. He did not want the GDAA to be distracted from its mission as a national association. He wanted programs that would benefit developers across Australia.

From 1999 to 2005 it all went very well for the Australian Game Developers Conference (AGDC). Unfortunately Adam Lancman, a good friend of JDM, whom JDM had personally selected to be the first President of the GDAA had a heart attack and died. The part-time CEO employee resented John’s contribution. She did not like John and wanted the AGDC conference to be owned by the GDAA. She had a fight with the AGDC organiser Pon Shalune. She felt that JDM was too famous and had too much power. She wanted the AIE who owned AGDC do exactly as the GDAA told them when it came to to conference. She did not appreciate that the AIE’s $500k or more that it invested in the conference each year was all it could afford and that her demands were in many ways unaffordable. She did not like that She had no control. She accused JDM behind his back that he had too much control and he would select the speakers.

In reality JDM explained to me that he did not choose speakers nor have any directorial control as committees selected the speakers. He simply gave the intro before the keynote. Unfortunately many in the Australian industry who were not chosen by ththe committee became resentful and they plotted.

The CEO of the GDAA asked for the Australian Game Developers Conference (AGDC) to it to be given to the GDAA. JDM said no. So she conspired and against the legally binding agreement between the AIE and GDAA which JDM had put in place to avoid such an occurrence, and against GDAA's own constitution which was crafted by the AIE to avoid the disunity that led to the CGDC downfall, she persuaded the board of the GDAA to ignore the agreements and its own constitution and set up GCAP in opposition to the Australian Game Developers Conference.

JDM instead of suing the GDAA for breach of contract, simply retreated and closed down the AGDC organisation so it would not compete with the GDAA’s own conference. He did not was to have arguments with his creation, the GDAA, and simply saw this as a decision that he did not agree with but this is what the majority had decided. Some argued with him to fight the GDAA and take it to court but he declined as he did not want to show disunity in the industry. He simply took the financial hit and kept quiet about it.

Years later he would receive a letter from the incoming President, Tom Crago, asking JDM for his forgiveness and if he would once again support the GDAA but JDM decided that while he would forgive the people behind the incident he no longer wanted to take a leadership role, having realised that he too could not solve the problem that Chris Crawford encountered with his own industry in the US. JDM realised that too many people wanted power and would do anything to gain it. He remembered what had occurred at his MF studio after Tactics and decided that it would be best if he did not associate himself with the GDAA in a leadership role and continue to have the AIE and himself used.

JDM said that her accepted that in the end, like Chris Crawford had learned with CGDC, that greed and people's ambitions and ego for titles like "Vice President" and "President", while doing little for the national industry, were issues he could not overcome. He felt the GDAA was being taken into an exclusive club run by few for the benefit of the few.

So in 2005 he accepted defeat, stated at his opening remarks of the 2005 AGDC that this would be the last AGDC. He stepped away from the GDAA, a sad man. He was never kicked out. He chose not to be involved and hoped that a new generation of leaders would do better. He remained a member, until the current CEO would no longer accept his membership money.

Many year later, the current CEO, wanted to destroy all memory of John, as he wanted to be recognised as the saviour of the industry, and spread many false rumours about JDM. JDM told me that he was very frustrated by this man as he led the GDAA into becoming a regional Melbourne only association and did little in terms of representing all developers.

An interesting story I was told was that JDM upon the sale of BigWorld wished to donate $100,000 to the GDAA. Despite his reservations about the GDAA, he knew that they were financially in trouble.

The CEO of the GDAA send an email to the then GDAA Canberra based President (accidentally copying JDM) saying some rather nasty things and not taking JDM's donation seriously. Sadly The GDAA did not move quickly enough and JDM’s sale of BigWorld was completed and no donation was made. JDM has kept a copy of that infamous letter and the CEO’s embarrassing reply once he realised he had accidentally copied JDM.

The CEO went on to ensure that the GDAA was stacked with Victorian game companies and in essence turned the GDAA into Victoria's association of game developers, with some token developers to make it seem it was a national organisation. The GDAA CEO continued to attack JDM and also the AIE behind his back by accusing the AIE of graduating too many graduates (most universities and other game schools graduate many more). The CEO was no longer invited to AIE's events and JDM stayed away from him, refusing to meet with him unless a witness was present due to the vitriol the CEO would spout at him.

An interesting bit of history that I later learned was that in 2015, Some 10 years later JDM cancelling AGDC, JDM sought to change the GDAA by wanting to donate $1,000,000 on the condition that the GDAA would set up offices in NSW and QLD, so it could become a national organisation, instead of a Victorian led and controlled entity, but the CEO of the GDAA refused largely because he feared that JDM’s push of becoming the GDAA president would mean that the CEO would be fired.

The GDAA CEO began spreading many malicious rumours. Some of these were secretly taped by developers and to JDM.

The CEO fo the GDAA urged all the GDAA members not to vote for JDM and threatened to resign as CEO if JDM’s campaign was succesful. JDM said that he purposely told some members of the GDAA information to see if this would make it to the CEO of the GDAA. In this way JDM was able to work out who was against him. He did similar things like this with some of his staff at the AIE in Melbourne so he could figure out who in the AIE was spreading false information to the CEO of the GDAA. He is no fool.

JDM's proposition was ultimately defeated by the majority of Victoria developers who in essence controlled the GDAA. He was quite elated by this which I found strange. He later said that he was glad he could now move on with his life and not have to think about the GDAA again as he had made his last attempt to reform it.

Now regarding the AIE. Its actually a not for profit organisation. The profits originally were donated to the GDAA (through the original AGDC) and after the GDAA coup in 2005, JDM focused the profits of the AIE into to new programs and to the benefit of AIE's students, through the AIE Incubators and the cash grants.

By 2018 the AIE founded 114 start up games companies with a 75% survival rate, greater than most incubators. JDM has done more that the whole GDAA in supporting startups. He told me that while the GDAA has 2-3 part time people, the AIE has hundreds of staff and will do far more for the industry than the GDAA ever hoes to achieve and he will back the AIE with his own considerable wealth, effectively making the GDAA irrelevant.

What makes JDM interesting is that he actually got no personal benefit, except the satisfaction of seeing other dreamers like himself have the opportunity of creating their own companies. He often said that "Education without job creation was immoral". Asking him what he meant by that, he said that most educators like TAFE's and Universities were just pump and dump machines, not interested in the student after graduation. He understood that private colleges like SAE would treat students this was as they were for profit, but he could never understand why TAFE and Universities which were government owned, would simply abandon their graduates. JDM believed that as a not for profit, it had enormous responsibilities to help create industry, like creating the GDAA, the AGDC, the AIE Incubators, then later GAME PLUS the co-working spaces. He felt that students were simply abandoned to get a job in a small industry. They were just after their money. Instead, the AIE's profits were all directed to helping its graduates create their own businesses, because JDM knew that this would create jobs for his and other students who were unable to build their own startups.

JDM and his family control the AIE. They don't get shares or royalties or big bonuses. They simply manage it and hope that one day others will gain this privilege. Likewise, all the startups the AIE has created own no money to the AIE or JDM. No royalties. Nothing. All absolutely free. Just ask them !

So why would JDM agree to this ?. He said that most people simply don't realise that the AIE is a not for profit organisation. He knows that people find it hard to believe that someone like him simply does good for good's sake. He thinks that when good men do nothing, evil will reign.

Some like to attribute to him evil intentions because people like him are rare and just not believable in this world. He said he does not care. He has his God and the only thing that matters to JDM is his God's approval. I did find that hard to understand, but if it work for him, and if that is what it takes to motivate him to help build our games industry, I'm not going to argue !

He has funded supported the AIE Incubator program over many years and $5.4M was spent to create these 114 startups by providing them with free rent, free computers, software, travel to overseas conferences and trade shows, as well as cash grants. Some teams have received over $40,000 in funding. None of these companies ever have to repay these grants. Unbelievably its all free. But only to AIE students. I asked him why only AIE students. He said that they were the best, focused and he did not have enough money to support others.

I asked him what he thinks of his "bad reputation" that is often seen in forums like this. He said that he ignores it. He believes his God knows his views and "heart" of the matter, and that is all that matters. He does get angry by the lies from people who work for competing educational institutions, or employees he had to lay off because of financial reasons or employees he fired due to theft (one went to jail) or incompetence.

He said that as a Christian, as hard as it is for him at times, he tries to forgive people. He know that a few people don't like him but he knows that may more like him because they appreciate what he has done for them or the industry. As a ChristIan he does not fight back. JDM said to me that he often hears from his God about what is to come and he tries hard to carry out the work that he believes his God is telling him to do. He attributes his success to listening and trying to do what God tells him to do.

His AIE salary is miniscule. Many years he has not earned a salary. I guess he does not need one. On the other hand remember that he donated US$2M after the sale of BigWorld to the AIE. In the Lousinna AIE, both JDM and his wife paid the full tuition ($20,000) for each student for the first two years to help underpriveledged students in Lafayette, which had a 50% unemployment rate (the unofficial rate, not the announced US rate which was false) to help these people to get a break. I asked him why he did this. He said that Seattle and Lafayette were his give back to the USA because he first got his start doing his first game for Electronic Arts and later for Microsoft and felt that after the crash of 2008 he wanted to put something back into the USA by creating these two not for profit schools.

I also know he was given in 2000 an Honorary Ambassador title by the ACT Governemt. along side Jackie Chan (the actor who lived in Canberra in his youth) for all the great things he did for Canberra . And he does this for no financial return.

When he sold to Wargaming, I heard from others that he might have more wealth than all the games companies in Australia put together. He owned the distribution rights to World of Tanks, World of Ships in the US and most of the world. Given that World of Tanks makes and estimated $600M a year, imagine what his worth actually is. I'm amazed that he has stayed out of the rich list. I guess he has either donated a lot of his wealth or no one has figured out he has a lot of money.

While some may hate him, his students and the startups he has financed love him. His real employees who have been with him since the early 80’s and 90’s love him.

I have tried to cover most of the things I know about JDM. The people above either don't know him, or were fired by him and are resentful, which is understandable. But on behalf of all the many people he has helped, who have worked for him for dozens of years, he is truly an amazing man. He is approachable, will tell it as he sees it. He won't lie to you. He keeps his word. If he says you will get a pay rise, he will deliver. If he promises you shares, he delivered. If he thinks you are a major drag on his team, he will ask the team and if the team agrees you are a drag, he will give you opportunities to improve and then, if you don't improve, he will fire you. I know that the people who got fired in MF and in BigWorld were agreed upon by the leadership team, so its not as if JDM just wakes up and fires people. We all took active part in these decisions.

So now you know the truth about many things, including JDM