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Sources: Disco Elysium dev ZA/UM to lay off around a quarter of its staff, cancels new game

ZA/UM in uproar after third project in three years gets canned
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Update (Feb. 19, 2024): Though ZA/UM has not responded to our request for a statement about the events, it has shared one with other outlets such as VG247, confirming the contents of our report:

“As with all studios, we adapt the size of our team to the work underway, growing when we start a new project and shrinking if one is cancelled. It is always hard to lose talented colleagues, and we thank those leaving for their many contributions to ZA/UM.”

Update (Feb. 16, 2024): Following our report about the layoffs at ZA/UM, some of those affected have decided to speak to us about the situation on the record, among them the last Disco Elysium writer, Argo Tuulik.

Original (Feb. 15, 2024): Around 24 employees are at risk of redundancy at Disco Elysium maker ZA/UM, according to GLHF sources close to the matter. This is roughly a quarter of the company’s current total workforce.

These cuts go hand in hand with the cancellation of a project codenamed X7, which we’ve been told was a standalone expansion for Disco Elysium. In a call with staff ZA/UM president Ed Tomaszewski said that X7 “was a game that was one to two years away from completion” and could’ve taken “more time and effort than Disco Elysium did.”

ZA/UM CEO Ilmar Kompus informed staff of the cuts in a message read by GLHF, writing that redundancies will mostly affect “the X7 team but also our non-development teams and non-X7 projects.”

ZA/UM development studio logo in white on black background.

ZA/UM is planning on letting a quarter of its workforce go, according to sources with inside knowledge.

Groups at risk of redundancy were listed in a separate message seen by GLHF and named writers as well as engineers on the X7 project alongside 3D, 2D, and technical artists, production, IT, and animation employees company-wide.

According to our sources this is the third big project at ZA/UM to be canned or put on hold in as many years with a Disco Elysium sequel (codenamed Y12) being cut in 2022 and a game set in a new sci-fi IP (codenamed P1) being paused in 2023.

This leaves two projects, codenamed C4 and M0 internally, in active development, with the latter believed to be related to the Disco Elysium IP. Just last week, ZA/UM opened job applications for a new design director with experience in creating narratively driven role-playing games.

Find the full message sent to staff by ZA/UM CEO Ilmar Kompus below:

Dear all,

Despite concerted efforts over the past eight months by our management team and the X7 disciplines, following consultation with our management team, I have taken the difficult decision to cancel X7. This decision, unlike the pause on Project P1, will unfortunately most likely lead to redundancies within our studio.

With the cancellation of X7 we are proposing to reshape our team to support our two remaining games. This adjustment will almost certainly lead to redundancies, mostly affecting the X7 team but also our non-development teams and non-X7 projects.

We are approaching this sensitive issue with the utmost care and respect. We will be initiating a formal redundancy consultation procedure with employees of Zaum Studio Limited who are at risk of redundancy in accordance with UK law. If you’re one of these employees, you will very shortly receive a Slack message, email, and a calendar invite for a meeting with your Lead and HR to discuss the next steps. Any individual whose role is affected, but who is not employed by Zaum Studio Limited, for example those employed by Deel or in our other EU locations, will be contacted separately about the procedure that will be followed. During this transition period, let’s maintain professionalism and support each other, upholding our studio values.

Ed will provide more context during our campfire in two hours (invite will be sent shortly). We will also open our anonymous Q&A form which can be found here: [Link]


One source blamed mismanagement for the current situation, claiming that management was “always acting like there was an enemy, be it the old Disco team, the press, or even people working there” and consequently failed to value its existing talent, allegedly preferring to hire fresh blood from outside rather than promoting employees from within the company. They also said “I don’t think women were treated the same and that their work wasn’t as valued.”

Another source bemoaned that the studio had “turned into the very thing that Disco Elysium was against. Brilliant people work there and I want only the best for them but [...] I hope it's somewhere else.”

We’ll keep you updated on this situation as it develops.