Former Disco Elysium developers claim Studio ZA/UM committed fraud and assert that “civil and criminal accusations are on the table”

I called this ZA/uM issue a catastrophe just over two weeks ago, so slap my face and name me Mystic Meg. Robert Kurvitz, the game’s director, and Aleksander Rostov, the game’s art director, have written a Medium article titled “TO FANS OF DISCO ELYSIUM, CONCERNING THE SITUATION AT ZA/UM” in which they explain, at least in part, why they were let go from Disco dev company ZA/UM. For brevity’s sake, let’s just say they’re making fraud claims.

For the lengthy version: in October, Martin Luiga (one of the ZA/UM art movement’s co-founders; this is not the same as the dev studio) confirmed that Kurvitz, Rostov, and writer Helen Hindpere were all let go at the end of 2021. We now have an account of what went down from Kurvitz and Rostov; they claim to have a financial interest in the game through an Estonian firm called Zaum Studio OÜ. Businessman Margus Linnamäe was the company’s first investor (Kurvitz’s company Telomer still holds a minority share). Tütreke OÜ, described as a “vehicle” for Estonian industrialists Ilmar Kompus and Tnis Haavel by Kurvitz and Rostov, acquired Linnamäe in 2021.


Kurvitz and Rostov claim they were cut out of daily operations as soon as Kompus and Haavel took over, and they have held back from speaking out until now out of concern for their own mental health and the wellbeing of their colleagues still employed by ZA/UM. Additionally, they claim they were let go just weeks after requesting paperwork and financial records.

“Tütreke OÜ appears to have fraudulently acquired ownership of Zaum Studio OÜ. We have reason to believe that the funds used by Tütreke OÜ to purchase the majority stake were obtained through the unjust enrichment of Zaum Studio OÜ “the most startling part of the statement is as follows.

Kaur Kender, who Kurvitz and Rostov refer as only as “another minority shareholder,” is a writer who assisted Kurvitz in self-publishing the novel on which the Disco Elysium scenario is based. Kurvitz and Rostov further say that Kender “supported” the scam.

Must have seems very conclusive, but it doesn’t say “we have evidence of,” so we’re still in the waiting game for now. There is no acknowledgement in Kurvitz and Rostov’s statement of another post by Luiga, in which Luiga claims that Kurvitz was “out on his ear for charges of ‘creating a poisonous workplace atmosphere'” and that he was “manipulated by psychopaths.”

Yes, it’s a jumbled mess. Both Kurvitz and Rostov claim that “We’re currently examining our legal alternatives. In both Estonia and the UK, there are potential criminal charges in addition to civil lawsuits “which is supported by the document Kotaku AU found in a court proceeding. Well, I guess that’s capitalism for you if they can’t establish fraud and they really did sell the Disco IP lock, stock, and barrel.