Isolated from the global financial market, Russia can no longer access many services, starting with video games.
The noose is tightening on Russia. Since the country was banned from the international Swift system, then from the Visa and Mastercard markets, the whole country has been cut off from the world. For several days now, the ban on payments in Russian rubles has had a strong impact on the tech sector, and in particular that of video games, which has not spared the Kremlin.
Developers and publishers take up arms
The video game boycott began last week, when CD Projekt Red halted sales of its games in Russian and Belarusian territories. On the studio’s GOG store, both countries are now banned from games, starting with Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Quickly, Electronic Arts followed suit in Poland, preventing Russia from making purchases from its online platforms.
Epic is stopping commerce with Russia in our games in response to its invasion of Ukraine. We’re not blocking access for the same reason other communication tools remain online: the free world should keep all lines of dialogue open.
— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom)
Finally, after Ukraine’s distress call to the video game industry, Microsoft had also taken the lead, suspending all its services in the countries concerned. Other studios then followed suit, such as Activision-Blizzard, but also Epic Games, which confirmed its decision on Twitter. The developer, however, detailed that it does not intend to block its other online communication tools, arguing that “a free world needs all means of communication to remain open”.
Nintendo and Sony play it discreet
While some editors jumped at the chance to affirm their public commitment to Ukraine to the world, others preferred not to say too much. On the Nintendo eshop, the Russian platform has temporarily been placed in maintenance. Officially, this is not a unilateral decision by the Japanese giantbut the simple consequence of blocking transactions in rubles on the various payment services.
Glory to Japan! Nintendo shop is blocked in Russia and probably in Belarus and Kazakhstan too (the picture from KZ user)
— Occupied Peter (@B_Right)
Same observation for Sony. While the video game giant – like Microsoft and Nintendo – was also concerned by the appeal of Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, the company was content to withdraw discreetly Gran Turismo 7 from the Russian PlayStation Store. According to Eurogamerthe company would not yet confirm this decision, simply stating about the game: “Release date pending confirmation”. The decision seems logical, however, especially when we know that the cinema branch of Sony has already announced the suspension of its films on Russian territory, starting with Morbiusthe next spin-off from Spiderman scheduled for March 24 in theaters.
Whether spontaneous or not, the decision to exclude Russia from the video game market will cost publishers and developers dearly: according to an estimate of Statistics dating back to last year, the country is the eighth largest consumer of video games, with $2.7 billion in play every year.