Game Developers Are Starting to Pull Their Games From Russia

In response to Russia's invasion, 'Cyberpunk 2077,' 'The Medium,' and others will no longer be sold in regions like Russia and Belarus.
Courtesy of CD Projekt RED
A screen shot from Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt RED, developer of The Witcher III and Cyberpunk 2077, announced today it will join a growing number of companies who will no longer sell its games in Russia and Belarus, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week. It will also prevent sale of any games to those regions on its own GOG storefront. The news came alongside horror developer Blooper Team announcing a similar measure. 


“The entire CD PROJEKT Group stands firm with the people of Ukraine,” said the developer in a statement on Twitter. “While we are not a political entity capable of directly influencing state matters, and don’t aspire to be one, we do believe that commercial entities, when united, have the power to inspire global change in the hearts and minds of ordinary people.”

CD Projekt RED business development operations director Jan Rosner said on Twitter that Russia and Belarus account for 5.4 percent of revenue for the studio, 3.7 percent for GOG.

Both companies are based in Ukraine’s neighboring country of Poland, which is currently taking in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. The developers have included Belarus because of the country’s active military support of the invasion.

“We understand that our decision might affect many Russian and Belarussian players who are not involved in this invasion, but we strongly believe that every step that can help stop the war is worth taking,” said The Medium and Observer developer Blooper Team in a statement. “This includes showing a full solidarity with the Ukrainian people both with words and actions, as well as creating pressure on the Russian and Belarussian public opinion.”


Other developers have taken a different tact. 

Thing Trunk, another developer based in Poland, announced yesterday its popular Diablo-inspired dungeon crawler Book of Demons would cost “10x,” more or “6666 Rubles” in Russia as a “temporary measure to bring attention” to the ongoing conflict.

“This is a drastic measure, as we are aware that some of our greatest fans are from Russia, the country where love for the ARPG and the original Diablo is strong,” said the developers in a statement. “Most of them probably are aghast with war crimes their government is committing on innocent Ukrainians. We know this might feel like punishment to some of them. Yet if this makes new players check our post for an explanation and thus allows us to be heard and reach those who are not aware of what the Russian government is really doing, then it will be worth it. We don't blame regular Russians, we are all brothers and sisters. It is their government that is to blame. The price will remain increased until further notice.”

A screen shot from the video game 'Cyberpunk 2077.'

A screen shot from the video game 'Cyberpunk 2077.' Courtesy of CD Projekt RED

All three developers have humanitarian efforts, as well. CD Projekt RED is donating one million PLN (roughly $230,000 USD) to Polska Akcja Humanitarn, an organization operating out of Ukraine and other countries. Blooper Team is “aiding Ukrainian refugees through monetary donations and extending employment opportunities along with housing and documentation aid.” And Thing Trunk is sending “all income” from Book of Demons “to NGOs [non-government organizations] that take care of refugees.”

These moves come after Ukraine’s Prime Minister of Digital Transformation asked Microsoft and Sony to cut off Russian Xbox and PlayStation “if you support human values.” Electronic Arts also announced it would remove Russian and Belarusian teams from its FIFA and NHL games and was “actively evaluating related changes to other areas of our games.”

The conflict is not prompting every video game company to take actions within their games, but is increasingly prompting them to comment. The Pokémon Company, who oversees the Pokémon franchise alongside Nintendo, announced today “the growing crisis in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, which continues to cause the displacement of families and threaten the safety of children, is heartbreaking.” The company is making an “immediate” donation of $200,000 to the humanitarian organization GlobalGiving, which targets families and children.

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