On March 14, Eurogamer (opens in new tab) and GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab) reported on a ZA/UM press launch that declared the decision of its authorized dispute with founding member and Disco Elysium producer Kaur Kender, whereas additionally indicating that Disco Elysium venture lead Robert Kurvitz and lead artist Aleksander Rostov’s wrongful termination swimsuit was dismissed over lack of proof. Since then, Kurvitz and “Sander Taal” (GamesIndustry.biz signifies that it is a pseudonym utilized by Rostov) have responded, stating that they may proceed to pursue authorized motion. In the meantime, ZA/UM launched Disco Elysium’s first content material replace since December 2021’s “Jamais Vu” patch.
The ZA/UM saga, in short
- 2000s: ZA/UM initially coalesces as an artist collective in Estonia.
- 2013: Robert Kurvitz publishes Sacred and Horrible Air, a novel and the primary industrial 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 appears to have been concerned since earliest levels, with eventual funding from Tõnis Haavel and eventual CEO Ilmar Kompus. Round this time, ZA/UM turns into a formalized recreation developer.
- 2019: Disco Elysium launches to crucial acclaim.
- March 2021: Disco Elysium: The Remaining Minimize, a definitive version of the sport releases.
- Finish of 12 months 2021: Challenge lead Kurvitz, lead artist Aleksander Rostov, and author/Remaining Minimize lead author Helen Hindpere “involuntarily” depart the corporate.
- 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 assist from investor/Disco Elysium producer Kaur Kender.
- Kompus, by way of ZA/UM, alleges poisonous administration type, belittling of feminine staff, and different abuses by Kurvitz and Rostov. No particular incidents or particulars elaborated, however GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab) cites an unknown variety of nameless sources to no 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 swimsuit in opposition to the corporate.
- December 2022: Kender withdraws swimsuit in opposition to ZA/UM, citing return of funds by Kompus, with no elaboration as to why he had the €4.8 million within the first place.
That is the primary public growth within the story since ZA/UM CEO Ilmar Kompus paid €4.8 million again to the corporate and Disco Elysium producer Kaur Kender withdrew his own lawsuit against the developer (opens in new tab). In ZA/UM’s preliminary press launch this week, it claimed that Kender has since paid Kompus for his authorized charges, and GamesIndustry.biz shared a seemingly contrite message from the author and entrepreneur:
“I’m grateful for the years of belief and cooperation with the staff, which made Disco Elysium a profitable venture,” Kender advised GamesIndustry.biz. “After leaving my full-time position, I filed a lawsuit which I spotted, after seeing the info, was misguided.”
ZA/UM additional acknowledged that Kurvitz and Rostov’s “unfair dismissal” declare in opposition to the corporate has been dropped attributable to “lack of proof,” however this solely appears to be a part of the complete case in opposition to it as the corporate nonetheless faces what it characterizes as a “collection of baseless allegations from former staff” that may “disintegrate underneath authorized and factual scrutiny.”
A consultant for Kurvitz and Rostov shared a four-part assertion with PC Gamer in response to ZA/UM’s claims. “The press launch is mistaken and deceptive in a number of respects and seeks to unfairly paint us–Robert Kurvitz and Sander Taal, the remaining minority shareholders in ZA/UM–as mere disgruntled staff,” the assertion begins.
Kurvitz and Rostov additional deny that their employment claims in opposition to ZA/UM had been withdrawn attributable to lack of proof. “They weren’t. We see our dismissal as half of a bigger marketing campaign in opposition to us and can pursue authorized choices accordingly.”
The pair additionally observe the unusual circumstances surrounding the €4.8 million withdrawn and far later returned to ZA/UM by CEO Kompus, the topic of Kaur Kender’s lawsuit. “Kender’s lawsuit was based mostly on the misuse of ZA/UM’s funds (4.8 million euros) by the bulk shareholders Kompus and Haavel to extend their very own stake within the firm.” Kurvitz and Rostov clarify. “Within the press launch, Kompus and Haavel admit to this misuse, arguing solely that the cash has been ‘paid again to ZA/UM’. Paying again stolen cash, nonetheless, doesn’t undo the crime; right here, it doesn’t undo the bulk that Kompus and Haavel have illegally gained in ZA/UM.”
“Kompus and Haavel silenced Kender on this matter, however they won’t silence us,” The pair concludes. “Not like Kender, we now have not participated within the looting of ZA/UM, and Kompus and Haavel haven’t any energy over us.”
The ultimate level paints Kender as an adversary of Kurvitz, Rostov, and Hindpere (the latter of whom will not be a celebration to the lawsuit, however has indicated assist of her fellow builders). In a Medium post from Rostov co-signed by the opposite two final 12 months, the artist states that the ousting and misappropriation of €4.8 million was “perpetrated by Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel with assist from Kaur Kender, one other minority shareholder.”
Tried out the new mode! Ahaha this is so fun, I’m glad they’re so in touch with us fans! from r/DiscoElysium
Two days after the preliminary press launch from ZA/UM, the corporate released a “collage mode” (opens in new tab) for the sport, a mixture picture mode, mannequin viewer, and Garry’s Mod-style sandbox. Whereas innocuous sufficient by itself, its timing with the brand new developments within the authorized battle over ZA/UM has elicited heated reactions from followers of Disco Elysium.
One of many highest-rated posts (opens in new tab) on the Disco Elysium subreddit from the previous few days makes use of the brand new mode to indicate a company stooge character from the sport hawking its new function, whereas others are encouraging followers to pirate the sport. responses (opens in new tab) to the collage mode announcement on Twitter, many are criticizing it as a tonal conflict with the sport, and even accusing it of being a distraction from the continuing authorized dispute of Disco Elysium’s possession. One reply was merely a screenshot of character Joyce Messier musing on how critiques of capitalism solely find yourself reinforcing capitalism, drawing a parallel with the sport’s politics and present state.
For now, as earlier than, the way forward for one in all our favorite games of all time stays unsure. ZA/UM is hiring, but it surely’s unclear how a lot leeway the studio has with Kurvitz and Rostov nonetheless pursuing authorized motion, whereas the artists’ personal path to any form of victory or reclamation of the IP is murky and little question costly.