In line with a pair of experiences from GLHF, Disco Elysium developer ZA/UM has canceled a standalone growth to Disco Elysium codenamed X7 and is shedding 24 employees, together with Argo Tuulik, the final remaining worker at ZA/UM credited as a author on the unique Disco Elysium. ZA/UM subsequently confirmed the layoffs and venture cancellation in a press release to PC Gamer.

Whereas different members of the unique workforce stay on the firm, together with Closing Lower author Justin Keenan, who was credited as an editor within the unique launch, it is an alarming rupture in continuity for the studio, which already noticed the contentious departure of three key builders in 2021 amid allegations of monetary malfeasance on the a part of studio executives.

Tuulik and ZA/UM principal author Dora Klindžić went on the report with GLHF to verify that almost all of the affected employees had been a part of X7’s growth. In line with an all-hands e-mail from CEO Ilmar Kompus, this leaves a venture codenamed P1 that’s on “pause,” plus two initiatives codenamed C4 and M0 that stay in energetic growth.

ZA/UM has not less than one different game that was canceled within the years since Disco Elysium’s launch as nicely, which to me speaks to an alarming lack of focus: two canceled and one “paused” game in 5 years, with the midsize studio seemingly spreading itself skinny on simultaneous initiatives.

Within the second GLHF report, Tuulik and Klindžić spoke disparagingly of the work surroundings at ZA/UM. Klindžić in contrast beginning there in 2022 to “being born in Yugoslavia within the ’90s: you’ve got simply missed the social gathering and now all you get is the bloodshed.” She additionally acknowledged that “the final two months of X7 had been rife with crunch, burnout, and battle.”

Persevering with the twentieth century communism theme, Tuulik likened the environment on the studio after Folks Make Video games’ documentary as “transitioning from the Soviet Union to the fascist Russian Federation.” Tuulik additional corroborated an nameless source’s allegation that girls had been discriminated towards on the firm: “I do know not less than 5 girls who’ve left or been made to depart the studio since Disco’s launch, naming Tõnis Haavel as a significant component. There are zero girls in inventive management and only a few girls in management positions generally.”

Tõnis Haavel is credited as a producer on Disco Elysium, and was convicted of investor fraud in Estonia over a foul land deal in Azerbaijan. Haavel, in addition to CEO Kompus, are central figures within the authorized dispute between ZA/UM and three key builders who had been ousted from the corporate in 2021: writers Robert Kurvitz and Helen Hindpere and artist Aleksander Rostov. The three contend that the corporate and priceless Disco Elysium IP had been wrested away from them, whereas Haavel and Kompus allege that the builders did not carry out their duties and fostered a poisonous working surroundings.

ZA/UM Studio supplied the next assertion to PC Gamer:

“As with all studios, we adapt the dimensions of our workforce to the work underway, rising after we begin a brand new venture and shrinking if one is cancelled. It’s at all times onerous to lose gifted colleagues, and we thank these leaving for his or her many contributions to ZA/UM.”

ZA/UM Timeline

  • Early 2000s: Disco Elysium lead author Robert Kurvitz organizes first Elysium setting tabletop video games with different anarchist punks in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • Late 2000s: ZA/UM initially coalesces as an artist collective in Estonia.
  • 2013: Robert Kurvitz publishes Sacred and Horrible Air, a novel and the primary business work set within the Elysium setting.
  • 2016: First public reveal of Disco Elysium as “No Truce With the Furies” (archived on Reddit) with predicted EOY 2016 launch. Producer Kaur Kender is concerned since earliest levels creatively and managerially, with additional funding from Tõnis Haavel, eventual CEO Ilmar Kompus, and Estonian capitalist Margus Linnamäe. ZA/UM is initially headquartered out of a leaky basement
  • 2019: Disco Elysium launches to vital acclaim. Developer interviews within the PMG documentary recommend it was a grueling growth with “9 months of crunch” previous launch.
  • March 2021: Disco Elysium: The Closing Lower, a definitive version of the game releases. Helen Hindpere is credited as lead author, with Kurvitz and Rostov supposedly engaged on a sequel.
  • Fall 2021: Challenge lead Kurvitz, lead artist Aleksander Rostov, and author/Closing Lower lead author Helen Hindpere “involuntarily” go away the corporate.
  • June 2022: Kurvitz and Rostov discovered a brand new growth home, Purple Information Ltd., with backing of Chinese language writer NetEase.
  • October 2022: Disco Elysium editor and former ZA/UM member Martin Luiga reveals the trio’s departure, subsequently confirmed by ZA/UM and a letter from Rostov co-signed by the opposite two.
  • Trio alleges unfair ousting, in addition to misappropriation of €4.8 million from ZA/UM to buy majority share in firm by CEO/investor Kompus and fellow investor Haavel with help from investor/Disco Elysium producer Kaur Kender.
  • Kompus, through ZA/UM, alleges poisonous administration fashion, belittling of feminine workers, tried IP theft,  and different abuses by Kurvitz and Rostov. GamesIndustry.biz cites an unknown variety of nameless sources to not less than partially corroborate the narrative.
  • Kender sues Kompus and ZA/UM over misappropriation of €4.8 million, Kurvitz and Rostov file their very own, separate go well with towards the corporate.
  • December 2022: Kender withdraws go well with towards ZA/UM, citing return of funds by Kompus, with no elaboration as to why he had the €4.8 million within the first place. Since this time, PMG experiences that Kender bought his remaining inventory in ZA/UM to Kompus.
  • Might 2023: Folks Make Video games documentary that includes interviews with each events within the authorized battle, in addition to builders nonetheless at ZA/UM, releases.
  • February 15, 2024: ZA/UM cancels a venture codenamed “X7,” allegedly a “standalone growth” to Disco Elysium and lays off 24 workers, a few quarter of the corporate. The ultimate remaining author from the unique game’s credit, Argo Tuulik, is a kind of laid off employees.