This news emerges in the midst of litigation from the former employees of developer ZA/UM surrounding their termination and company money that was was allegedly used by individuals to become majority shareholders.
In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, developer ZA/UM announced that former employees were fired for misconduct instead of financial gain.
“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.–ZA/UM via GamesIndustry.biz
The also listed the reasons why Disco Elysium Designer Robert Kurvitz, Writer Helen Hindpere, and Art Director Aleksander Rostov were fired:
● Limited to no engagement in their responsibilities and work – including not working at all for almost two years while still being paid by the studio – and forcing colleagues to compensate for their lack of effort.–ZA/UM via GamesIndustry.biz
● Creating a toxic work environment that is antithetical to the ZA/UM culture and team productivity.
● Misconduct in interacting with other colleagues that includes verbal abuse and gender discrimination.
● Attempts to illegally sell to other gaming companies ZA/UM’s intellectual property with the aim of undermining the rest of the team.
Due to the pending litigation, ZA/UM is limited on the amount of information they were able to disclose, although they mentioned the vast growth they have experienced in the last year and look forward to creating future games.
On the other side of the coin, Robert Kurvitz and Aleksander Rostov released a statement of their own in the Medium. Kurvitz served as the Game Director on Disco Elysium, while Rostov served as the Art Director. To explain their position, they provide some history of Disco Elysium’s development:
Our stake in the game exists in the form of minority shareholdings in an Estonian company called Zaum Studio OÜ, which owns everything related to the game. The majority of this company’s shares were initially held by Margus Linnamäe, an Estonian businessman and investor who provided the initial capital. In 2021, Linnamäe was bought out by another minority shareholder, an Estonian company Tütreke OÜ. Tütreke OÜ is a vehicle for two Estonian businessmen — Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel.-Kurvitz and Rostov via the Medium
They also claim that they have evidence that Kompus and Haavel bought the majority stake with money that was obtained illegally:
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.-Kurvitz and Rostov via the Medium
At the moment, the pair are exploring their legal options but believe they will have a case both in Estonia and the United Kingdom. They think that this could result in both civil and criminal charges.
Up till now, Kurvitz and Rostov have kept silent on their pending litigation. In their statement, they claim this was out of respect for colleagues who still work at the studio.
The first hearing was listed for November 28, 2022.
The Boss Rush Podcast – Fridays at 7AM ET
The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and The Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, LeRon, Stephanie, Edward, and their friends from around the internet come together to talk their week in games, entertainment, and more while also bringing topics for conversation, answer listener and community questions, and cover major news and events happening in the video game industry. Watch The Boss Rush Podcast live on Wednesday Nights on Twitch at 8:30PM ET / 5:30PM PT or on Friday mornings at 7AM ET on YouTube and podcast services everywhere. Thanks for listening! You can also get this episode one week early on Patreon.
Shows also available on The Boss Rush Podcast feeds:
- One V One: The Creator Interview Series (Also available on its own feed)
- Talk The Walk: The Walking Simulator and Cozy Game Conversation Show
- Boss Rush Podcast Extra
- Boss Rush Panels
Featured Image Source: ZA/UM