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Former ZA/UM creative leads push back on Disco Elysium studio's "misleading" legal battle

The battle between ZA/UM and ousted co-founders Robert Kurvitz and Aleksander Rostov continues, with the two announcing their plans to "purse legal action" against their former studio.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

March 17, 2023

1 Min Read
Promo art of Harry Dubois from ZA/UM's 2019 game Disco Elysium.

Two of the key creative forces behind ZA/UM's Disco Elysium are speaking up against their former employer. Lead designer Robert Kurvitz and art director Aleksander Rostov (under his alias Sander Taal) released a statement against ZA/UM following recent comments made by the developer, calling it "part of a larger campaign against us."

Earlier in the week, Disco Elysium's executive producer Kaur Kender left the Estonian studio after retracting his lawsuit against the studio this past December. In its statement on the matter, ZA/UM said it "continues to thrive" and would aim to "address a series of baseless allegations" from any ex-staffers who spoke against it. 

The "baseless allegations" comment reads like a subtle jab at Kurvitz and Rostov, who were with both reportedly ousted from the studio with writer Helen Hindpere in 2021. In their statement sent to the press (such as Eurogamer), both men called ZA/UM's press release "deeply misleading" and false in several respects. 

"[It] implies that our employment claims against the studio were withdrawn for lack of evidence," the two men wrote. "They were not. [...] We will pursue legal options accordingly."

Regarding Kender, Rostov and Kurvitz believe he shouldn't have withdrawn his suit against ZA/UM. To them, the studio's press release confirms current shareholders Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel had misused studio funds to "illegally gain" a majority stake in ZA/UM. 

"Kompus and Haavel silenced Kender on this matter, but they will not silence us. Unlike Kender, we have not participated in the looting of ZA/UM, and Kompus and Haavel have no power over us."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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