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Kaur Kender dropped his lawsuit against ZA/UM in late 2022, and has now departed the studio after paying the legal fees for its majority shareholder.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

March 14, 2023

2 Min Read
Cover art for ZA/UM's Disco Elysium featuring Kim Kitsuragi and Harry Dubois.

Kaur Kender, a former executive producer for ZA/UM's 2019 game Disco Elysium, has "completed his exit" from the studio. 

His leave follows the lawsuit he dropped against Tütreke OÜ, the Estonian developer's majority shareholder, towards the end of 2022. Per a press release, Kender has divested all his studio shares, repaid all the debts he owed to the developer, and financially reimbursed the legal costs for ZA/UM's CEO Ilmar Kompus. 

At the time, he'd sued Kompus for being fired, and sought damages against both him and fellow Disco Elysium executive producer Tõnis Haavel (both of whom own Tütreke OÜ). 

Kender's comment in the press release calls his previous lawsuit "misguided," and that his leaving would be for ZA/UM's benefit.

In that same press release, Kompus wrote that the decision was made "with the collective interest of ZA/UM and our incredible team in mind." 

"We are grateful for Kaur’s contributions," he continued, "including bringing together forces across art, writing, and music to create Disco Elysium, and his work to ensure the game’s ongoing success. I wish Kaur well in his future endeavors.”

ZA/UM's employee odyssey gets stranger and stranger

The turmoil behind the Disco Elysium studio can be traced back to October 2022. At the start of the month, it was revealed Robert Kurvitz (the game's lead designer), Aleksander Rostov (art director) and Helen Hindpere (writer) had been allegedly ousted from the studio they helped to found in 2021. 

Martin Luiga, an editor at ZA/UM who first reported their firing, alleged at the time that Kender and Haavel were the reason behind the trio's ousting. Weeks later, Kurvitz filed a lawsuit against ZA/UM on his own behalf, not Rostov or Hindpere's.

The following month, Rostov and Kurvitz shed more light on the situation, alleging that Haavel, Kompus (with some help from Kendel) used money from Tütreke OÜ to purchase a majority stake in Zaum Studio OÜ. It's further claimed that Haavel and Kompus used money meant for a Disco Elysium sequel to acquire this majority stake. 

"We are now in the process of reviewing our legal options," wrote Kurvitz and Rostov at the time. "Both civil claims and criminal charges are on the table—in Estonia and the United Kingdom."

But as the press release for Kender's departure notes, Kurvitz has since dropped his "unfair dismissal" suit. ZA/UM notes that it "continues to thrive" at this point in time, and adds that it will "continue to address a series of baseless allegations" from ex-ZA/UM staffers. 

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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