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Video game companies crack down on Russia amid Ukraine conflict

Video game companies crack down on Russia amid Ukraine conflict
Photo Credit: Pixabay
7 Mar, 2022
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As global economic sanctions continue to be imposed on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, the video game industry is among those that is veering towards an industry-wide withdrawal of support and services in the country. From major tech corporations to independent gaming studios, companies have increasingly spoken out against the conditions in Russia – announcing donations and suspending sales and transactions, until further notice.

The list now includes the likes of Microsoft and Nvidia among those suspending hardware sales. Among those suspending software operations in Russia are Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard, FIFA maker Electronic Arts, Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red and more.

Crackdown on gaming hardware

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Microsoft, incidentally, has led from the front in terms of suspending services in line with global economic sanctions on Russia. Among other aspects, Microsoft has stopped the sales of its games, in-game transactions and gaming hardware in Russia. Brad Smith, president and vice-chairman of Microsoft, has said in a statement that the company will continue to monitor the situation, and could take further actions accordingly.

Media reports have revealed that Nvidia, which is one of the biggest sellers of gaming hardware for PCs around the world, have also stopped selling their products in Russia. While not just restricted to gaming, hardware sales have also been stopped by Intel and AMD, two of the world’s leading consumer processor manufacturers, in Russia. This too, in turn, could affect the gaming industry in the country.

However, among major gaming hardware suppliers, Japanese companies Nintendo and Sony have so far not mentioned any such suspensions. Nintendo’s online game store is seemingly down in Russia for new transactions, but that is largely due to the suspension of global payment support in Russia – than Nintendo’s own actions. Sony, meanwhile, has seemingly delayed the release of an upcoming game on its PlayStation platform – although its online store as well as console sales remain live in Russia as of this moment.

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Game publishers withdraw support

Among those cracking down on the software end of things are the likes of Activision Blizzard, the publisher of the iconic Call of Duty series, who has suspended sales of all games as well as in-game items in Russia. Electronic Arts, arguably one of the largest sports games publishers in the world, has removed Russian teams from titles such as Fifa and NHL – alongside suspending sales of all games and in-game items in the country.

“EA Sports stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and like so many voices across the world of football, calls for peace and an end to the invasion of Ukraine,” read a statement by EA Sports Fifa’s official Twitter account. The move echoes actions taken by sports bodies around the world – with the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) suspending Russian clubs from the coveted Champions League tournament this year. The Formula 1 organising body also suspended Russian sponsors – and driver Nikita Mazepin – from participating in this year’s season.

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Take-Two Interactive, which owns WWE franchise maker 2K Games and GTA franchise developer Rockstar Games, has also stopped selling games and in-game items in Russia – as has CD Projekt Red, the publisher of Cyberpunk 2077. Epic Games, a major player in the PC gaming space, has halted access to its games store or any transactions for Russian users. Media reports suggest that numerous other small and indie gaming houses have also withdrawn support from Russia.

However, other major names such as Valve’s Steam, Bandai Namco and Capcom have so far refrained from making any statements or commitments regarding the Ukraine-Russia conflict. While the likes of Ubisoft and The Pokemon Company have committed aides to those affected by the conflict, neither have so far stated any suspension of services in Russia till date.