Shifting Narratives at ZA/UM: The Aftermath of Disco Elysium's Last Writer Layoff

Liam Williams


Shifting Narratives at ZA/UM: The Aftermath of Disco Elysium's Last Writer Layoff

The storms of change and controversy continue to brew over ZA/UM Studio, the creative powerhouse behind the critically acclaimed RPG Disco Elysium. In an unexpected turn of corporate restructuring, nearly a quarter of the studio's workforce faces layoffs. Among those affected is Argo Tuulik, the final writer from the original game's credits, signaling the end of an era for the studio's original visionaries.

Since the departure of key developers in 2021, turmoil has seemed a constant shadow across the halls of ZA/UM. The cancellation of the standalone expansion codenamed "X7" is a bitter pill for the creative industry, as the potential evolution of Disco Elysium's universe is abruptly halted. As the studio confirms ongoing projects, the future remains uncertain. The loss of the original writing team raises questions about continuity and the studio's direction moving forward.

The situation at ZA/UM is indicative of a larger trend within the gaming industry where rapid growth and success place unforeseen pressures on studios. The complex tapestry of legal disputes and developer exits paints a portrait of a studio at a crossroads. With reports from former employees such as Tuulik and Dora Klindžić pointing to a changing culture, concerns about the studio's stability grow stronger.

As the news settles, the community responds with a mix of concern and nostalgia. The lingering sentiments toward the studio's acclaimed work contrast sharply with the dissent rising from within its ranks. Fans of Disco Elysium now ponder what the future holds for ZA/UM and whether the remaining projects, shrouded in their codenames C4 and M0, will recapture the spirit of the game that captivated the hearts of so many.

Despite the uncertainty clouding ZA/UM's horizon, the legacy of Disco Elysium persists. The groundbreaking narrative and game design principles that propelled it to fame will continue to inspire the industry. As we reflect on the studio's achievements and the poignant departure of its last original writer, we cling to the hope that from these tribulations, a new chapter of compelling storytelling will emerge.