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Disco Elysium Directors & Developer ZA/UM Fiasco Continues With More Claims
Former Disco Elysium game director Robert Kurvitz and art director Aleksander Rostov were ousted from the company by developer ZA/UM just last month. Now, they have given statements against each other.
Disco Elysium game director Robert Kurvitz and art director Aleksander Rostov wrote in a Medium post:
“We think it’s time people knew what has transpired at the company. As soon as they became majority shareholders, we were quickly excluded from daily operations, our employment was terminated and our access to the company’s information was shut off. Our firing came weeks after we started asking for documents and financial data, which is still being kept from us.
We have now learned that Tütreke OÜ must have obtained control over Zaum Studio OÜ by fraud. We believe the money used by Tütreke OÜ to buy the majority stake was taken illegally from Zaum Studio OÜ itself, money that belonged to the studio and all shareholders but was used for the benefit of one. Money that should have gone towards making the sequel. We believe that these actions — which in our view, and the view of our lawyers, amount to criminal wrongdoing punishable by up to three years imprisonment — were perpetrated by [ZA/UM CEO] Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel with support from Kaur Kender, another minority shareholder.
We are now in the process of reviewing our legal options. Both civil claims and criminal charges are on the table — in Estonia and the United Kingdom.”
In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, ZA/UM denied the accusations and said:
“While we are confident that ZA/UM will prevail in court once all the facts are heard, we believe it is necessary to address baseless claims and falsehoods, if only to rightly defend ZA/UM and protect our employees. The rumour that our decision to terminate the contracts of these individuals was taken for financial gain is entirely unfounded and does not in any way reflect the facts.
It was a decision that had to be taken for the wellbeing of the collective. Further, ZA/UM denies any claim of financial malfeasance or fraud that is being held against us. The vast majority of profits from Disco Elysium have been invested back into the studio in order to fund our next projects, which are currently in development.”
They also said that the former Disco Elysium directors were dismissed for neglecting their responsibilities, “including not working at all for almost two years while still being paid by the studio”, as well as accused of creating a toxic work environment, “misconduct in interacting with other colleagues that includes verbal abuse and gender discrimination”, and “attempts to illegally sell to other gaming companies ZA/UM’s intellectual property”.
Disco Elysium was originally released in 2019, with a definitive edition of the game launching for PS4, PS5, PC and Mac in March 2021.
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