Rebound: the creators of Disco Elysium would have been ousted because of their managerial methods

It is the journalist Danielle Partis of the site Games Industry who affirms it: the studio ZA / UM announced its own accusations against the designer and the creative director of Disco Elysium. They would have been fired in 2021 for serious misconduct in their conduct of the company, and in particular their relationship with the development teams. She writes :

“The studio said the fired employees had little to no involvement in their work, created a toxic work environment, behaved inappropriately with other employees, including using verbal harassment and discrimination based on on gender, and also attempted to illegally sell ZA/UM intellectual property.”

Facts reported by Games Industry sources, but also by the studio’s current CEO, Ilmar Kompus, who testified in the Estonian newspaper Estonian Ekspress:

“They treated their co-workers very badly. Despite many exchanges on this subject, things have not improved. The company was therefore forced to lay them off. Robert Kurvitz has been known to put women and co-workers down in the past, but the company didn’t know it. It would be very short-sighted of a growing international business to tolerate such behavior.”

“They even took the secret initiative and in violation of their contractual commitments to canvass other major video game studios to sell themselves and the game’s intellectual property. -to be angry says Ilmar Kompus, who speaks “delusions of grandeur”.

Their dismissal would have been the fact of Kaur Kender, executive producer of Disco Elysiumtheir direct supervisor, before he took a leave of absence from the studio for medical reasons a few months later, in August 2021. There would have been two conflicting visions within ZA/UM: the financiers who remained, and the creators led by Robert Kurvitz who judged “secondary profits”.

Games Industry sources confirm in off this situation : “on one side the shenanigans of the CEO, on the other a toxic author”. The co-founder of the cultural association behind the studio, Martin Luiga, even testifies openly to the Estonian newspaper: “I started drinking because of these unusual working conditions. The work was organized in such a way that you would have thought it was intended for us all to yell at each other, not to produce a video game”.

One of the sources, Danielle Partis, seems to describe the situation as more nuanced, however, with long-serving employees being reluctant to speak about the behavior of their former superiors, to whom they owe their jobs. Newer employees, for their part, were reluctant to bring up the subject because of their lack of knowledge of the file. We remember, however, that an employee spoke out a month ago, saying that the departure of a few employees did not mean the death of Disco Elysiumwith the majority of the developers from the first game still working on its sequel.

Here is a full translation of the ZA/UM press release provided to Games Industry:

“The ZA/UM studio today issued a statement in response to recent team layoffs that have sparked litigation and media coverage. The recent layoff of a few ZA/UM team members has resulted in complaints and inaccurate media coverage.While we are confident that ZA/UM will prevail in court once all the facts are heard, we believe it is necessary to respond to the baseless allegations and untruths, if only to properly defend ZA/UM and protect our employees.

Although ongoing litigation limits what we can share publicly, we believe additional information will provide a more accurate picture given that our former employees neglected to mention key facts to reporters, on blogs and in other public platforms. For the sake of clarity and accuracy, we share the reasons for the just cause terminations of some former ZA/UM Studio team members:

● Limited or no commitment to their responsibilities and work – including not working at all for almost two years while still being paid by the studio – and forcing their colleagues to compensate their lack of effort.
● Creation of a toxic work environment which goes against the culture of ZA/UM and the productivity of the team.
● Misconduct in their interactions with other colleagues which includes verbal abuse and gender discrimination.
● Attempts to illegally sell ZA/UM intellectual property to other game companies in an effort to undermine the rest of the team.

ZA/UM cannot and will not tolerate this flagrant misconduct, even from individuals who, along with the entire team, have contributed to a game of which we are exceptionally proud and which continues to capture imaginations. worldwide. Besides creativity and innovation, ZA/UM also stands for professionalism, kindness, decency and fairness, which we expect from all our employees. It would be short-sighted to accept anything less, as we need a tight-knit team for the highly collaborative process of game creation.

The rumor that our decision to terminate the contracts of these people was taken for financial reasons is completely unfounded and in no way reflects the facts. It is a decision that had to be made for the well-being of the collective. Further, ZA/UM denies any allegations of financial malfeasance or fraud against it. The vast majority of Disco Elysium’s profits have been reinvested into the studio to fund our upcoming projects, which are currently in development.

We won’t let the actions and comments of a handful of people distract from the studio’s important work. ZA/UM has tripled in size over the past year and now has nearly 100 employees, while retaining the vast majority of the team that worked on Disco Elysium. We have built a passionate and creative team of staggering talent that continues to combine storytelling, art and technology in our efforts to elevate video games and redefine genres. We are excited to continue on this path with all the love and intelligence we have in our hearts and minds. We still have so much to show you.”

Also Read | [News] Two of the co-creators of Disco Elysium take the majority shareholders of the ZA/UM studio to court

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