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Technology Ukraine asks game industry to block Russian accounts as punishment for invasion


Technology

Technology Ukraine asks game industry to block Russian accounts as punishment for invasion

Pulling the plug? — Vice PM says move “will motivate the citizens of Russia” to rise up in protest. Kyle Orland – Mar 2, 2022 5:00 pm UTC Enlarge / Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation of Ukraine, speaks at a December 2021 press conference.Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister…

Technology Ukraine asks game industry to block Russian accounts as punishment for invasion

Technology

Pulling the plug? —

Vice PM says move “will motivate the citizens of Russia” to rise up in protest.


Technology Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation of Ukraine, speaks at a December 2021 press conference.

Enlarge / Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation of Ukraine, speaks at a December 2021 press conference.

Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation of Ukraine, has publicly called on “all game development companies” to “temporarily block all Russian and Belorussian accounts” in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

In a tweet from his verified account, Fedorov also called on esports platforms to “temporarily stop the participation of Russian and Belorussian teams and gamers in all international esports events and cancel all international events holding [sic] on the territory of Russia and Belarus.”

These moves, Fedorov suggests, “will motivate the citizens of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression” by the Russian government. “In 2022, modern technology is perhaps the best answer to the tanks, multiple rocket launchers… and missiles.”

@Xbox @PlayStation

You are definitely aware of what is happening in Ukraine right now. Russia declare war not for Ukraine but for all civilized world. If you support human values, you should live the Russian market! pic.twitter.com/tnQr13BsSv

— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) March 2, 2022

In an additional note directed at the Xbox and PlayStation Twitter accounts, Fedorov wrote that “if you support human values, you should [leave] the Russian market!” In a follow-up tweet, Fedorov also asked Riot Games, EA, Ubisoft, Gameloft, and Wargaming to “close your office in Russia” in solidarity with Ukraine. “There’s no place for [an] aggressor on the global technological map!”

Representatives from Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Valve were not immediately available to respond to a request for comment. We will update this article if we hear anything from the companies included in Fedorov’s requests.

Technology Will support lead to action?

The open call to the game industry comes as governments and corporations around the world are responding to the invasion by taking significant steps to sanction Russia and cripple its economy. Many Western governments have barred the exports of most technology products to Russia and have largely cut Russian banks off from the global financial system. Apple has halted Russian sales of its products and has cut sanctioned Russian banks off from its Apple Pay service. Fedorov has also asked Apple to bar Russians from accessing the iOS App Store, a move the company has yet to make.

The International Game Developers Association has publicly condemned an invasion it calls an “egregious breach of international law” and has called on its members to “denounce the violent actions taken against Ukraine.” Over 400 game companies have Ukrainian offices, representing 30,000 Ukrainian employees, according to an IGDA State of the Ukrainian Game Industry report from January.

IGDA’s State of the Ukrainian Game Industry report.

Video game companies including Bungie, CD Projekt Red, 11bit Studios (This War of Mine), GSC Game World (Stalker), and Digital Extremes (Warframe) have publicly pledged to donate a portion of their profits to Ukrainian relief efforts and have urged others to do the same. Necrosoft Games’ Brandon Sheffield is also organizing an Itch.io indie games bundle to raise funds for international relief charities operating in Ukraine.

But few video game companies have taken the more extreme steps suggested by Fedorov to bar Russian customers entirely. Ukraine-based gaming NFT marketplace Dmarket is the primary exception, as it cut ties with Russian and Belorussian users over the weekend.

Technology Esports disruptions

In the traditional sports world, organizations including the International Olympic Committee and FIFA have already barred Russians from international competitions and canceled events planned for the country.

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In esports, Danish league BLAST Premier has banned Russian teams from participating in events for the “forseeable future,” and it canceled an upcoming qualifier tournament that it felt was “not appropriate… at this time.” Riot Games has also postponed a Valorant Champions Tour event in the EMEA region, saying its “number one priority is to support the players, casters, staff, and fans affected by the escalating crisis in Ukraine.”

Intel, meanwhile, decided to host its high-profile Extreme Masters Katowice event as planned in nearby Poland while “closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine.” Ukrainian Counter-Strike pro Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev used an interview at that event to stress that “esport[s] is out of politic[s]. All of you have nothing to do with government decisions.”

That said, he added that “all of us want peace for Ukraine and for [the] whole world. All of us [are] scared. All of us need to show [an] example in this tournament for [the] whole world. We all need to stay humans first.”

Kostyliev later announced on Instagram that he had donated 1,000,000 Ukrainian hryvnia (approximately $33,000) to the Ukrainian military.

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