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Disco Elysium Standalone Expansion Cancelled Following Layoffs

Disco Elysium The Final Cut Key Art

If you’re a fan of the acclaimed 2019 role-playing game Disco Elysium, we have bad news: its standalone expansion is canceled after developer ZA/UM lays off 24 people, which is around a quarter of its workforce.

The expansion, codenamed “X7,” was reportedly “. . .a game that was one to two years away from completion,” according to ZA/UM president Ed Tomaszewski. He added that the project would’ve “. . .taken more time and effort than Disco Elysium” did. X7 is the third major project to be canceled or paused within the studio, with the others being Disco Elysium’s sequel, codenamed “Y12”, and a new sci-fi title codenamed “P1.” Y12 was canceled in 2022, while P1 was paused indefinitely in 2023.

The unfortunate news was originally reported by Sports Illustrated’s video game division, GLHF, after sources from the studio shared the internal staff message with the outlet. They also received another internal message, though unpublished, that highlighted the roles affected by the layoffs. Aside from the X7 staff, other affected employees include 2D/3D technical artists, animation, production, and IT personnel.

After the news broke, more sources came forward to GLHF on the record to speak about the layoffs and the current culture in the studio. One of these named sources is Argo Tuulik, the last remaining writer from the original Disco Elysium team. Tuulik went on record to say that he thinks ZA/UM “. . .will forever stay a one-game studio.” Another employee, principal writer Dora Klindžić, described her time with the studio as akin to “. . .being born into Yugoslavia in the ’90s: you’ve just missed the party and now all you get is the bloodshed.”

What’s next for Disco Elysium?

Following the cancellation of the Disco Elysium expansion and the layoff of the staff associated with the project, it’s highly likely that support for the game is done. The last major update it got was in 2021 when Disco Elysium: The Final Cut was released. Along with the sequel’s cancellation in 2022, this most recent news feels like the final nail in the coffin for such a critically acclaimed game.

Even if the expansion wasn’t canceled, project X7 would’ve likely been subjected to numerous crunch times and a high staff turnover rate. Both named and unnamed sources describe a hostile work environment within ZA/UM, with one stating that upper management was “. . .always acting like there was an enemy, be it the old Disco team, the press, or even people working there.” The studio also apparently preferred to hire people externally instead of promoting people for roles internally.

Another major pain point that employees identified was that ZA/UM did not seem to value their female employees as much. As Argo Tuulik told GLHF, “I know at least five women who’ve left or been made to leave the studio since Disco’s launch… There are zero women in creative leadership and very few women in leadership positions in general.” A documentary called “People Make Games” supports this claim, where they have Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Lead Writer Helen Hindpere describing a call when the studio’s chief executive was screaming at her on the phone.

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I started writing about video games in 2016, and haven't looked back since. It's been an amazing journey discovering new games and meeting the people behind them. Fueled by litres of tea and nightly legendary skirmishes on Halo Wars with my husband.

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