Disco Elysium studio ZA/UM faces layoffs due to cancelled game expansion

Staff at ZA/UM had reportedly been working on a standalone Disco Elysium expansion for some time.
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Disco Elysium developer ZA/UM is reportedly facing a significant number of layoffs, following the cancellation of a standalone Disco Elysium game expansion. The news was broken by Sports Illustrated, which outlined a studio atmosphere of frustration following years of tumult, and a number of cancelled projects.

Per reported details, ZA/UM was working on a project known as “X7” which had spun out of Disco Elysium. It was allegedly one or two years away from completion and could have taken “more time and effort than Disco Elysium did” – a fact which may have inspired its cancellation.

Sources speaking to Sports Illustrated have also alleged poor management, decision-making, and hiring processes at the studio contributed to the cancellation of the Disco Elysium expansion.

Read: Disco Elysium developers speak out about alleged studio toxicity

“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,” Ilmar Kompus, ZA/UM CEO reportedly said in a staff letter shared by Sports Illustrated.

“This decision, unlike the pause on Project P1, will unfortunately most likely lead to redundancies within our studio.”

It’s believed that around 24 employees are now at risk of redundancy – some of whom worked directly on X7, and others who worked on “non-development teams and non-X7 projects.” Per a list of potential redundancies seen by Sports Illustrated, those in the firing line hail from multiple disciplines: 3D, 2D, and technical artistry, production, IT, engineering, and animation.

Sources speaking to Sports Illustrated reported that employees were assigned a “score” based on “objectively applied selection criteria” and those with the lowest scores were identified for redundancies.

ZA/UM will reportedly be reshaped in future, to support two remaining projects, known as C4 and M0. One of these is allegedly related to Disco Elysium, although it’s seemingly not a formal sequel or expansion.

“We are approaching this sensitive issue with the utmost care and respect,” Kompus claimed. It’s expected that the redundancy process will commence shortly, in line with the strict requirements of employment law in the UK. We’ll likely hear more about these changes in the coming months.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.