Disco Elysium studio declares ‘resolution’ of legal battle as two of its ousted founders insist fight continues: ‘we will not be silenced’

On March 14, Eurogamer (opens in a new tab) and GamesIndustry.biz (opens in a new tab) reported on a ZA/UM press release declaring the resolution of its legal dispute with Disco Elysium founding member and producer Kaur Kender, while also stating that the wrongful termination lawsuit of Disco Elysium project leader Robert Kurvitz , and the main artist, Aleksander Rostov, was dismissed for lack of evidence. . Since then, Kurvitz and “Sander Taal” (GamesIndustry.biz indicates that this is a pseudonym used by Rostov) have responded, stating that they will continue legal action. Meanwhile, ZA/UM released the first Disco Elysium content update since the December 2021 “Jamais Vu” patch.

The ZA/UM saga, in brief

  • 2000: ZA/UM initially merges as a collective of artists in Estonia.
  • 2013: Robert Kurvitz publishes Sacred and Terrible Air, a novel and the first commercial work set on Elysium.
  • 2016: First public reveal of Disco Elysium as “No Truce With the Furies” (archived to Reddit) with release scheduled for EOY 2016. Producer Kaur Kender appears to have been involved from the early stages, with eventual investment from Tõnis Haavel and eventual director Executive Ilmar Kompus. Around this time, ZA/UM becomes a formalized game developer.
  • 2019: Disco Elysium is released to critical acclaim.
  • March 2021: Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, a definitive edition of the game releases.
  • End of year 2021: Project lead Kurvitz, lead artist Aleksander Rostov, and Final Cut scribe/head writer Helen Hindpere are “involuntarily” leaving the company.
  • October 2022: Disco Elysium editor and former ZA/UM member Martin Luiga reveals the trio’s departure, later confirmed by ZA/UM and a letter from Rostov co-signed by the other two.
  • Trio alleges wrongful ouster as well as misappropriation of €4.8 million from ZA/UM to buy a majority stake in the company by CEO/investor Kompus and fellow investor Haavel with the support of the investor/producer by Disco Elysium Kaur Kender.
  • Kompus, via ZA/UM, alleges a toxic management style, belittling of female employees, and other abuses by Kurvitz and Rostov. No specific incidents or details were elaborated, but GamesIndustry.biz (opens in a new tab) he cites an unknown number of anonymous sources to at least partially corroborate the narrative.
  • Kender sues Kompus and ZA/UM for misappropriation of 4.8 million euros, Kurvitz and Rostov file their own separate lawsuit against the company.
  • December 2022: Kender withdraws the lawsuit against ZA/UM, citing Kompus’ return of funds, without explaining why he had the €4.8 million in the first place.

This is the first public development in history since ZA/UM CEO Ilmar Kompus paid the company €4.8 million and Disco Elysium producer Kaur Kender dropped his own lawsuit against the developer. (opens in a new tab). In ZA/UM’s initial press release this week, he claimed that Kender has since paid Kompus for his legal fees, and GamesIndustry.biz shared a seemingly contrite message from the writer and entrepreneur:

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