The Disco Elysium situation has gotten even messier as its former directors are accusing the ZA/UM’s majority shareholders of obtaining control of the company by fraud as the company is saying these employees were fired for misconduct.
In October 2022, Disco Elysium editor Martin Luiga shared that key members of ZA/UM, including lead writer and designer Robert Kurvitz, writer Helen Hindpere, and lead of art and design Aleksander Rostov, had left the company in an “involuntary” manner. Later that month, Kurvitz filed a lawsuit against the company, and now we have a bit more details on his allegations against ZA/UM.
Kurvitz and Rostov took to Medium to share more details about the ongoing situation at ZA/UM, and they level some heavy claims against the current majority shareholders, Tütreke OÜ.
Tütreke OÜ, an Estonian company that is a vehicle for Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel, became majority shareholders of ZA/UM after it bought out the shares of Margus Linnamäe. Kurvitz and Rostov said all was well under Linnamäe, but everything changed when Kompus and Haavel took over.
“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.”
The two then go on to alleviate that “Tütreke OÜ must have obtained control over Zaum Studio OÜ by fraud.” They state that they illegally used money from Zaum Studio OÜ itself to become the majority stakeholders with help from another minority shareholder named Kaur Kender.
Kurvitz, Rostov, and their lawyers believe this warrants up to three years imprisonment and that Haavel, who they claim is the “ringleader,” is once again committing fraud after an incident in 2007.
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ZA/UM, on the opposing side, has confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz that an Estonian press report of mismanagement and misconduct among “former senior employees” is true. ZA/UM did not specify any names in the statement, but the news follows the ongoing situation with Kurvitz, Hindpere, and Rostov.
ZA/UM says these employees “had limited to no engagement in their responsibilities and work, created a toxic work environment, demonstrated misconduct towards other employees including verbal abuse and gender discrimination, and attempted to illegally sell ZA/UM’s intellectual property.”
Speaking to Estonian Ekspress, Kompus explained the alleged toxic environment these employees fostered, and spoke of them by name.
“They treated their co-workers very badly,” Kompus told the Ekspress. “Despite talking to them repeatedly, things did not improve. Therefore, the company was forced to fire them. Robert [Kurvitz] is said to have been known for belittling women and co-workers in the past, but this was previously unknown to the company. It would be very short-sighted of a growing international company to tolerate such behaviour.”
GamesIndustry.biz’s sources spoke of a “clash of visions between the Kompus and Kurvitz, saying it was “CEO corporate scheming on one side, a toxic author on the other.”
It’s clear there is bad blood on each side, and only time will tell how the story will play out. IGN will continue to update the story as developments happen.
All of this surrounds a game we gave a 9.6/10 to, saying that it is a “deep, sharply written, unique blend of noir-detective fiction and traditional pen-and-paper RPGs.” Additionally, we said Disco Elysium – The Final Cut elevates the game from “an already phenomenal RPG to a true must-play masterpiece,” and we awarded it a rare 10/10.
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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.