portals Eurogamer and PC gamer noted this in the Estonian newspaper Esti Express Details have emerged of a lawsuit filed by the executive producer of role-playing detective Disco Elysium Kaur Kender against the game’s independent studio ZA/UM.
Recall that three key developers of Disco Elysium were fired by ZA/UM after Estonian businessman Ilmar Kompus – now the company’s head and majority shareholder – and Tõnis Haavel, who had previously been convicted of investment fraud, came to power at the studio had come.
Two of the three fired – Disco Elysium director Robert Kurvitz and art director Alexander Rostov – accused Compus and Haavel (and Kender) of usurping power through deception, while the new leaders explained to part with employees by creating them “toxic atmosphere” in the collective.
According to Kurvitz and Rostov, and now corroborated by Kender’s lawsuit, in 2021 Kompus and Haavel, through front company Tütreke, bought out ZA/UM’s majority shareholder for the money they received from reselling the studio’s developments for the Disco sequel Elysium – the game codenamed Pioneer One.
It is reported that Tutreke somehow acquired a draft of the Pioneer One script and four black and white concept art featuring a man in a space suit from ZA/UM for just £1 and then resold them to the studio but already for £4.8 € million according to Kurvits with Rostov, these funds should have been used for the project itself, among other things.
Compus reportedly hoped to quickly sell ZA/UM and the rights to the game (Microsoft and Tencent were named among potential buyers, and Amazon was willing to shoot the series), but Kurvitz, as the creator of Disco Elysium, was even fired The studio still had the right to veto any deal regarding the franchise.
Meanwhile, Kender was also fired by ZA / UM for uncomfortable questions to the new leadership (he was also involved in the coup, according to Kurvits and Rostov). Along with the studio space, Disco Elysium’s executive producer lost his share of it (about €1m).
As part of his lawsuit, Kender persuaded the court to seize Compus’ controlling interest in ZA/UM so he could not sell the studio at the trial. Khaavel is said to have led the entire process, but his role will not be advertised due to high debts (11.2 million euros) as a result of a criminal record.
Kompus denied the lawsuit against him, Haavel named the allegations “completely absurd” – After receiving court documents from Eesti Ekspress, both stopped communicating. The next stage is for ZA/UM’s minority shareholders (like Kurvits and Rostov) to vote in favor of the studio filing its own lawsuit against Compus.
The battle for the soul and the future of Disco Elysium continues.