After "involuntary" departures of creative leads, Disco Elysium studio says development remains a "collective effort"

Disco Elysium
(Image credit: ZA/UM)

Update: In a statement provided on behalf of ZA/UM, studio representatives said that "like any video game, the development of Disco Elysium was and still is a collective effort, with every team member's contribution essential and valued as part of a greater whole."

"At this time, we have no further comment to make other than the ZA/UM creative team's focus remains on the development of our next project, and we are excited to share more news on this [...] soon."

Original story: A blog post written by ZA/UM founder Martin Luiga alleges that a number of the studio's core team left "involuntarily" at the end of 2021.

As reported by Nibel (opens in new tab) and spotted by PC Gamer (opens in new tab), a Medium post (opens in new tab) written by Luiga talks of the dissolution of the "ZA/UM cultural association" and states that Disco Elysium's lead designer Robert Kurvitz, writer Helen Hindpere, and art director Aleksander Rostov were no longer at the studio, "which would seem like bad news for the loving fans that are waiting for the Disco sequel". 

"I, Martin Luiga, a founding member and Secretary of the ZA/UM cultural association, as well as the assembler of most of the core team, am hereby dissolving the ZA/UM cultural association (not to be confused with the ZA/UM company, on which subject I would note that neither Kurvitz, Hindpere nor Rostov are working there since the end of last year and their leaving the company was involuntary. Which would seem like bad news for the loving fans that are waiting for the Disco sequel)," Luiga wrote.

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"The reason for dissolving the cultural organization is that it no longer represents the ethos it was founded on," he added. People and ideas are meant to be eternal; organizations may well be temporary. 

"I find that the organization was successful overall and most of the mistakes that were made were contingent, determined by the sociocultural conditions we were thrown into. I still encourage people to organize, and I would say that one of the qualities that the ZA/UM cultural organization sorely lacked was pretty much any formal structure."

The post ends with "for a while, it was beautiful. My sincerest thanks to all that have rooted for us", Luiga's name, and his location, which he gives as "Tallinn Inpatient Treatment Centre of Psychiatry Clinic, Ward IX". It's unclear if this is true or, as our friends at PC Gamer suggest, "a dark joke".

When someone responded to the post with "this is incredibly sad and disappointing", Luiga replied (opens in new tab), intimating that the issue stems from the company's investors, albeit acknowledging that he doesn't know "if we would have managed to get the initial investment without these people".

Disco Elysium is so popular it's getting its own TV series. The Disco Elysium TV show (opens in new tab) will be made by the same people who made the game, as developer ZA/UM has partnered with production company dj2 Entertainment to develop the series. 

“We’re so gratified at the response ‘Disco Elysium’ has received, and very happy to be teaming with dj2 to expand the franchise for other media and new audiences,” said Helen Hindpere at the time.

After a Disco Elysium developer put up a tiny framed picture of Kim Kitsuragi at a convention, fans created a shrine of letters to the beloved character (opens in new tab).

If you want to learn about the game's origins and inspirations, check out our chat with developer ZA/UM (opens in new tab)

Disco Elysium devs were looking for artists with a "love for sci-fi and space (opens in new tab)" earlier this year. 

Vikki Blake
Weekend Reporter, GamesRadar+

Vikki Blake is GamesRadar+'s Weekend Reporter. Vikki works tirelessly to ensure that you have something to read on the days of the week beginning with 'S', and can also be found contributing to outlets including the BBC, Eurogamer, and GameIndustry.biz. Vikki also runs a weekly games column at NME, and can be frequently found talking about Destiny 2 and Silent Hill on Twitter. 

With contributions from