The global business community increasingly tends to single out Russia for its war in Ukraine, and video games are no exception.
Even though NATO and NATO-aligned forces have yet to engage in direct combat, economy-shattering sanctions have cut Russia off from goods and services that many of us take for granted, of Holiday rents to basic Internet service.
Here’s a look at what we’ve seen so far from key players in the video game space as efforts to isolate Russia snowballed amid Calls from Ukraine for the industry to act.
How Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony reacted
Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony are the three biggest names in console gaming, and they’ve all taken steps to cut Russia off, at least to some degree.
In the case of Microsoft, the US-based company has suspended all new sales – not just games and gaming hardware – as it complies with economic sanctions put in place by the federal government. Brad Smith, president and vice president of Microsoft, suggested that further steps could be taken.
“We believe we are most effective in assisting Ukraine when we take concrete action in coordination with decisions made by these governments and we will take additional action as this situation continues to evolve,” Smith wrote in a statement. business blog post. He added that the top priority of Microsoft, which also produces Windows, is to protect Ukraine’s cybersecurity.
The actions taken are a little more hazy in the case of Nintendo and Sony, both based in Japan. In Nintendo’s case, sales are suspended in the company’s online eShop, but apparently not due to direct action by the company. A support page translated from Nintendo’s Russian site blame the eShop payment services for not processing payments made in rubles, the Russian currency.
Meanwhile, Sony seems to have canceled or postponed indefinitely the PlayStation 5 release of Gran Turismo 7, the latest entry in the console’s flagship auto racing series. It does not appear in the Russian version of the PlayStation Store (although the store itself seems to be still online).
Nintendo and Sony haven’t said much about the invasion, beyond the former’s support page. We reached out to both for further comment.
Industry heavyweights Nvidia, Activision Blizzard and more respond
The actions being taken across the industry aren’t just limited to console hardware gamers. Major publishers and studios also reacted in their own way.
Nvidia graphics card manufacturer told PC Magazine Friday that “[w]We do not sell in Russia.” This decision corresponds to similar actions taken by Intel and AMD; the two chipmakers have both suspended sales of their products to Russia and its ally in the invasion, Belarus.
A number of key players on the software side have also taken action. Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard suspended sales “from and in” its games in Russia, which covers both the games themselves and the purchases that can be made in each of them. The company is also increasing employee contributions to Ukrainian relief efforts by matching them 2:1
Electronic Arts, meanwhile, first made the decision to remove the Russian teams from its latest Fifa and NHL Games. A few days later, the company joined others in stop sales of its games and game content in Russia and Belarus.
“We have made the decision to halt sales of our games and content, including virtual currency packs, in Russia and Belarus while this dispute continues. As a result, our games and content will no longer be available on the market. purchase from our Russian region storefront on Origin or the EA app, including via in-game stores,” A declaration of EA reads. “We are also working with our platform partners to remove our titles from their stores and stop the sale of new in-game content in the region.”
Ubisoft, the French publisher of the Assassin’s Creed series (among others), has made no public proclamation regarding the halt in sales. However, the company issued a statement specifically aimed “at Ukrainian teams and people”. Ubi maintains a studio in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
“Our top priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of our teams and their families. Over the past few months, Ubisoft has been closely monitoring the situation and our main objective has been the safety of our teams,” said declared on Declaration of March 1 bed.
“As events escalated in mid-February, Ubisoft advised all teams to take refuge in a location they considered safe. to account for any potential disruption to banking systems.”
The publisher said it had also donated 200,000 euros to the Ukrainian Red Cross and Save the Children “to meet the urgent needs of the Ukrainian people”.
Alan Lewis, a spokesperson for Take-Two Interactive (which owns 2K Games and Rockstar Games), said the company has “watched recent events unfold in Ukraine with concern and sadness.”
“After careful consideration, last week we decided to halt new sales, installations and marketing support for all of our brands in Russia and Belarus for the time being,” he said in a statement.
A number of the industry’s biggest publishers have been conspicuously absent as calls for private interests to act grow louder. To name a few: Capcom, Bandai Namco and Sega have yet to address the situation publicly. Mashable has reached out to those we can for statements and details.
Chinese publishers Tencent and NetEase have also avoided the conflict so far. In the case of Tencent, which also owns messaging platforms WeChat and Weixin, the situation is a bit clearer. As an insider reported On Wednesday, the company primarily called on users of its messaging apps to remain objective when it comes to sensitive topics. China, it should be noted, has historically maintained friendly ties with the ideologically similar Russian government.
Epic Games, CD Projekt Red and more weigh in
fortnite Manufacturer Epic Games, which also owns and operates the Epic Games Store, made its position clear in a tweet on Friday. “Epic is shutting down trade with Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. We don’t block access for the same reason other communication tools stay online: the free world should keep all lines of dialogue open.
CD Projekt Red, the Polish developer behind Cyberpunk 2077 and owner of online gaming store GOG, took a similar step. Poland, a NATO member country that borders both Ukraine and Russia’s ally Belarus, has backed efforts to resist the Russian offensive and refuge offered to displaced Ukrainians.
“In light of the Russian military invasion in our neighboring country Ukraine, until further notice, CD Projekt Group has taken the decision to stop all sales of our games to Russia and Belarus” , the statement said. “Today, we begin working with our partners to suspend digital sales and cease physical inventory shipments of CD Projekt Group products, as well as all games distributed on the GOG platform, in the territories of the Russia and Belarus.”
A notable absence here is Steam and its owner, Valve Corporation. The sustainable online storefront for PC games is still available in Russian, but this is a language setting rather than a region setting on the website. Valve hasn’t addressed the conflict outwardly at all, though. anecdotal reports suggest the current use of the platform in Russia has been complicated by the suspension of services by payment providers there – a range that now also includes PayPal.
Bloober Team, another Poland-based studio, has also weighed in on Russia’s hostilities and pledged to halt sales of its games – which include Blair Witch and The way — in Belarus and Russia. And while Valve has apparently taken no direct action regarding Steam’s availability in Russia, Bloober’s statement makes it clear that game makers and publishers also have the power to pull products themselves.
“We’ve been working with our partners to remove the games from stores in these countries – with the ban taking effect first on Steam,” a tweet from Bloober’s Thread Remarks. “Our hearts are with the people of Ukraine and this is one of the many steps we are currently taking to support them.”
The Pokémon Company is partly owned by Nintendo, along with two other Japanese companies (Game Freak and Creatures), so it’s unclear who would make the final decision on any decision to suspend sales in Russia. But The Pokémon Company has issued a statement and donation aimed at helping those affected by the ongoing conflict. It is, however, a carefully crafted statement that bypasses any direct mention of Russia by name.
“The Pokémon Company International is launching immediately [$200,000 donation] to our partners at GlobalGiving to provide humanitarian assistance,” the statement read. “The non-profit organization will effectively direct funds to community organizations that support families and children affected by the crisis.
The Ukraine-based game developer behind the STALKER series, GSC Game World, has unsurprisingly turned away from the job of creating video games while its country is under siege. In one video Posted on Wednesday, the speechless captions explain that “we strive to help our employees and their families survive” while expressing hope that their work will continue after Ukraine’s victory over Russia.
At least some of these actions may have been prompted by the Ukrainian government’s direct plea for help. On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov – whose Twitter profile also refers to him as Ukraine’s “Minister of Digital Transformation” – shared a letter asking the gaming industry and community to “temporarily block all accounts Russian and Belarusian accounts, to temporarily stop the participation of Russian and Belarusian accounts”. Belarusian teams and players in all international esports events and cancel all international events [held in] the territory of Russia and Belarus.”
Fedorov directed the tweet to official Xbox and PlayStation accounts.
Mashable has contacted, where possible, all parties mentioned herein who have not taken a position. These and others are expected to take the first or additional steps as calls for help increase in volume, intensity and scope. We’ll keep this story updated as new information develops.
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