Crisis at ZA/UM Studio: The Aftermath of Disco Elysium’s Expansion Cancellation

Crisis at ZA/UM Studio: The Aftermath of Disco Elysium’s Expansion Cancellation

The recent news about potential redundancies at ZA/UM studio following the cancellation of the standalone expansion to Disco Elysium, codenamed X7, has sent shockwaves through the gaming community. PC Gamer’s in-depth report sheds light on the circumstances surrounding the cancellation, including the details of the layoffs and the alleged “humiliation campaign” targeted at writer Argo Tuulik.

According to 12 current and former employees interviewed by PC Gamer, nearly a quarter of the studio’s staff were laid off after the cancellation of X7. This included lead writer Argo Tuulik, who was reportedly targeted for becoming “too big for his shoes.” Fellow lead writer Dora Klindžić revealed that Tuulik was subjected to a campaign of humiliation, where he was made to apologize for his participation in a documentary and was undermined by studio management.

The departure of key creative talent, including setting creator Robert Kurvitz, had a significant impact on the studio. This eventually led to the cancellation of a full sequel to Disco Elysium and the suspension of an unrelated sci-fi RPG project. The cancellation of X7, which could have been released around 2025, marked another setback for the studio.

The accounts provided by former employees paint a picture of a toxic work environment at ZA/UM studio. Klindžić, who left her career as an academic physicist to work on the sequel to Disco Elysium, expressed regret over the situation at the studio. She felt that she had abandoned her entire life and career only to be met with uncertainty and abrupt changes.

It is hard to ignore the irony of a groundbreaking game like Disco Elysium being surrounded by controversies and internal strife. The game, which was universally praised upon its release, now finds itself at the center of a tumultuous period for ZA/UM studio. The drastic shift from critical acclaim to internal turmoil highlights the challenges faced by game developers in a rapidly evolving industry.

The fallout from the cancellation of X7 and the subsequent layoffs at ZA/UM studio underscore the fragile nature of the gaming industry. The treatment of creative talent, such as Argo Tuulik, raises questions about the expectations placed on developers and the importance of fostering a healthy work environment. As fans eagerly await news of ZA/UM studio’s next project, it is clear that the repercussions of this crisis will be felt for years to come.


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