The company promised it would continue to work hard on behalf of the Australian esports community, but months after revealing Queensland esports organiser Doesplay had failed to meet its own deadline to pay prizes to players and teams, the company's website is down, its social media pages are either missing or quiet, and players are still unpaid.
In February we reported on a Queensland-registered business called Doesplay. It's a company that focuses on tournament organisation, primarily within the Call of Duty scene.
Doesplay also branched out into live events, including a $10,000 Pro Series that took place in the Gold Coast in late July last year.
But since then, players have struggled to recover money owed from the company. Rob Lineker, the owner and registered director of Doesplay, told me he understood players' frustration, and that they would "continue to work hard for the competitive gaming community".
The Missing Prizes
Months on, Doesplay's website has disappeared. Both doesplay.com and doesplay.biz, domains registered under Lineker's name and the Rob Lineker Electrical Ballarat firm, are offline. Doesplay's Facebook account has vanished, and there's been nothing posted on the official Twitter account since May.
In Lineker's emails back in February, the address listed in the signature was an office in Queensland's Surfers Paradise. Cached versions of Doesplay's website show the same address appeared on the bottom of the site in late September, but it was later removed and ASIC records show that another company began operating out of the same address from the first of March.
We've tried contacting Lineker via multiple different channels. At time of print, we've yet to hear back.
Players who were owed money back in February still haven't received anything. The common denominator: A complete lack of communication from Doesplay.
@thedippaeffect @DoesplayCom owed $175 lol.
— Ethan (@Dellemaa) July 25, 2016
@thedippaeffect @DoesplayCom my Gears of War team is owed $200 still, team mates are @Citadel_Sim @Citadel_Migrant @mikeYIPPYKIAY. $50 each
— Matthew Westphal (@metapodX) July 25, 2016
@thedippaeffect @DoesplayCom The real answer most people are saying is it's every from tens, hundreds and thousands +myself in the thousand
— DALEROXX (@DALEROXX) July 25, 2016
The number of players owed money extends into the hundreds according to the Doesntpay website. The site has a running counter since Doesplay set a public deadline for paying prizes.
Scores of players reached out on social media about unpaid prizes, ranging from amounts in the tens of dollars to the thousands. Tournament brackets and results were hosted on the website, rather than a third-party provider, so much of their record of achievement has been wiped or is no longer accessible.
A main part of Doesplay's revenue stream was paid subscriptions. Premium members were given entry into a monthly giveaway, the right to compete in the "Call of Duty Pro Series" event, entry into special competitions, and recorded statistics.
Sources within the business confirmed that the Premium service was shut down on June 11. But multiple users speaking under anonymity claim they never received any emails, notifications or messages that the subscription service was being shut down. Adam Campbell, who worked as Doesplay's business development manager, said the public was not not informed the paid service was being shut down. Users were still charged for Premium until the website closed down.
"Even [though] there was no prize money there was non-money related benefits for being a paying member, so some people stayed on," Campbell said. "I don't think any public was told [about Premium shutting down]. Just the staff. No-one had/has access to social media accounts so was never made public. I tweeted it. But I have a small following so it didn't get spread far at all."
The Buck Stops With One
Campbell said he joined the business in late September. He didn't just bring experience to the table: He also brought cash, to the tune of more than $4000.
According to him, the money was used to help cover outstanding prizes and payments for tournaments and the Doesplay event in July. "There was also stuff after that I helped put in for," he said. "I didn't want the [Australian] scene to become an esports joke and be a third world country of esports."
Campbell ended up investing more than $8000 into Doesplay, but he never saw a cent in return. Another person with inside knowledge of the company claimed he was offered shares in lieu of regular payment, but he turned the offer down for regular pay instead. In any case, the company's ASIC records show that Lineker has only ever been the sole shareholder since the company was registered on 16 January 2013.
According to Campbell and others, Lineker was the sole person in charge of making decisions.
We asked multiple people -- from players, to teams, to those inside Doesplay -- the same question: Was it fair to say that Lineker had abandoned the community?
The unanimous answer: Yes.
What Happens Now?
Most of the Call of Duty scene, the strongest users of Doesplay's service, had begun to move on after Doesplay missed their January deadline. But they won't forget the promises made.
Albert Nassif is the owner and former player for Mindfreak, winners of the Doesplay Gold Coast finals and the recent Australian champions. He told me that despite the team still being owed thousands of dollars from Doesplay, he has nothing but admiration for Campbell.
"At the time the team was paid the $5500 from winning the Doesplay [event] we did not know that the money was out of Adam's pocket," Nassif told me. "We have nothing but high regards for Adam as he seems to be loyal and caring towards the community."
As for Lineker, Nassif quipped that he "could say so much" but that he just wants a line drawn under the whole saga. "All I really want is for him to clean up the mess he created and accept responsibility for what he has done and the friends he has hurt by leaving them out to dry."
But while Lineker has stepped away from Australian esports, Campbell still wants to help the local community. "I'm always keeping busy. I'll follow other avenues within and outside of esports to be a part of," he said, noting that ESL and Cybergamer had operated credible and reliable tournaments for the community for years.
For everyone else, esports moves on. The Call of Duty World League continues to have the biggest prize pools in Australia. League of Legends and the OPL gets bigger and better every year, and the Counter-Strike community is enjoying exposure and salaries like never before.
But Doesplay, its director and all the money owed to players, will vanish into the dust. There's always a chance the money will be repaid, but the players to whom the money is owed have little hope, content to move on to bigger, better and more reliable ventures.