Disco Elysium studio claims former employees fired for 'gross misconduct'

Disco Elysium studio claims former employees fired for ‘gross misconduct’

It looks like my workdays now have to start and end with Disco Elysium, which is quite similar to Disco Elysium. In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, ZA/UM – the studio that developed Disco Elysium – confirmed the reasons why several employees were laid off last year. These include “limited or no commitment to their responsibilities”, “creating a toxic work environment”, “verbal abuse and gender discrimination” and the attempt to sell ZA/UM intellectual property to others. other companies.

Last month it was revealed that game director Robert Kurvitz, art director Aleksander Rostov and writer Helen Hindpere left ZA/UM towards the end of 2021. The studio’s statement echoes, in more professional language , comments that the current CEO of ZA/UM Ilmar Kompus wrote to the Estonian newspaper Estonian Ekspress, as well as things mentioned in a blog post by Martin Luiga, who worked at ZA/UM and was the original source of information about the dismissals.

Although the official statement does not name specific employees, Kompus’ comments in the Ekspress article (as translated by Google) name Kurvitz and Saandar Taal, an alias of Rostov, alleging that they “humiliated colleagues and intended to steal intellectual property”.

Kompus told the Ekspress that Rostov and Kurvitz wanted to take control of the intellectual property, including Disco Elysium, and went “secretly and in violation of existing contracts” to other game companies. The world of Disco Elysium is based on a long-running custom D&D campaign, which Kurvitz later used in his book Sacred And Terrible Air, before becoming the setting for the game.

Kompus also claims that Kurvitz and Rostov “treated their co-workers very badly” and that Kurvitz was “notorious for putting women and co-workers down in the past.” GI.biz says their own sources have made claims that echo these, with an unnamed source saying longtime staff were hesitant to speak out about Kurvitz’s behavior.

Yesterday, Kurvitz and Rostov released a statement via Medium alleging that Kompus and fellow businessman Tõnis Haavel obtained control of ZA/UM through fraud, with the help of fellow shareholder Kaur Kender (a writer who had worked with Kurvitz previously and served as Disco’s executive producer).

ZA/UM’s statement to GI.biz includes a paragraph denying “any claim of financial malfeasance or fraud that is brought against us”, and says “the vast majority of Disco Elysium’s profits have been reinvested into the studio to fund our upcoming projects, which are currently in development”. The studio also confirms that legal filings have taken place (Kurvtiz’s company, Telomer, filed last month to “obtain information and review documents”) but that they are confident will “prevail in court a once all the facts have been heard”.

It is somehow possible that everyone is telling the truth at the same time. Ekspress has sources that describe the situation as a clash between the business team and the creative team (who weren’t as concerned about profit, and GI.biz cites a source calling it “intriguing CEO on one side , a toxic author of the other other”. The only thing I can say for sure is that I know I will have to write another article about all this at some point. /UM Studio at GamesIndustry.biz.

Edit: Turns out Saandar Taal is an alias of Aleksander Rostov, and not an entirely new person as I originally reported. The post has been updated to reflect this.

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