New details of the legal battle between Disco creators Elyisum and their former boss have surfaced, as part of a hearing held in an Estonian court.
To recap the story so far: the trio of senior employees behind the first Disco Elysium game were fired from developer ZA/UM after the company was taken over by Estonian businessman Ilmar Kompus, who currently the owner and controlling shareholder of ZA/UM, and Tõnis Haavel, who was previously convicted of investment fraud.
On the one hand, several employees – including Disco Elysium game director Robert Kurvitz and art director Aleksander Rostov – had previously alleging that the takeover by Kompus and Haavel was fraudulentand that they were kicked off trying to discover more. On the other hand, Kompus and Haavel have declare the fire was caused by some employees creating a “toxic environment” – and they were said to have planned to leave the studio to try to build a Disco Elysium sequel elsewhere.
A significant part of the current legal disputes seems to depend on the ownership of some of the sketches – early designs for a potential Disco Elysium 2 – as reported by the company. Estonian Eskpress newspaper (via computer gamer).
These drawings – apparently of a man in a scarf – are said to have been sold for just £1 to a front company owned by the new Estonian management of ZA/UM, the company This company later resold them to ZA/UM as part of a €4.8 million deal to take control of the company. This is the alleged incident that Kurvitz and Rostov have in the past claimed to be fraud.
It has been suggested that Kompus and Haavel intended the deal as a stepping stone for them to sell the company to a tech giant that includes Microsoft and Tencent. But the deal didn’t materialize and employees began to question what was happening in the interim.
Last month, in an Estonian court, Kaur Kender, the former chief executive of production and marketing for Disco Elysium, joined the fray. Kender was also fired from ZA/UM, allegedly also for trying to question his new management.
Kender claims that as a partner in ZA/UM, his dismissal leaves him with no stake in the company – worth 1 million euros. Kender has successfully argued that the court should seize a controlling stake in ZA/UM owned by Kompus to avoid being sold and devalued abroad.
As for Haavel, Kender claims that he has also quietly joined a subsidiary of ZA/UM, which owns the intellectual property rights of Disco Elysium, and is owed 11.2 million euros. This debt stems from Haavel’s past convictions for investment fraud.
When contacted, both Kompus and Haavel denied knowing about the lawsuit. ZA/UM has yet to comment.
Eurogamer has contacted ZA/UM themselves and will update as any further developments occur.