The list of game publishers refusing to do business in Russia is growing. Activision Blizzard and Epic Games both say they are halting sales in the country in response to the Ukraine invasion.
Activision Blizzard president Daniel Alegre announced Saturday (March 5) that the company would "be suspending new sales of and in our games in Russia while this conflict continues" and "will continue to look at ways to support the Ukrainian people."
Aside from cutting of sales of new games, this means Russians who have already purchased the publisher's titles won't be able to make in-game purchases, although it seems they'll still be able to play the games themselves.
We are committed to helping those impacted by the terrifying violence taking place in Ukraine.
Today, we are announcing the suspension of new sales of and in our games in Russia while this conflict continues, as well as other efforts to assist Ukraine. https://t.co/wG9tQMNzjK— Activision Blizzard (@ATVI_AB) March 5, 2022
"Throughout the past week," Algere said, "we have watched the news from Ukraine and the worsening humanitarian crisis that is unfolding. Our company’s commitment is to help those impacted by this terrifying violence and to provide assistance in every way possible."
Shortly after Activision Blizzard’s announcement, Epic Games followed suit and announced its decision to halt sales in Russia via Twitter:
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) March 5, 2022
Epic’s announcement stated that it’s “stopping commerce with Russia” in its games, but notes that it won’t ban Russian players from accessing them.
It’s unclear whether the Fortnite developer’s ban on commerce applies to microtransactions, games, or both.
The two major game publishers are the latest to join a growing list of game companies that have stopped doing business in Russia.
Microsoft, which announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard in January, halted "all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia and Belarus."
This includes Xbox consoles, Microsoft-published games, and the Xbox Cloud Gaming service as well as the company's other products associated with Windows, Office, Mircrosoft 365, and more.
We are taking several new steps in response to the war in Ukraine, including suspending new sales in Russia. https://t.co/BCHZ57TryO— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) March 4, 2022
Electronic Arts and Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red have made similar announcements to stop sales and in-game purchases.
Between these five companies, many of the world's most popular games can no longer be purchased in Russia, including Call of Duty, Battlefield, Fortnite and Cyberpunk 2077 being affected. CD Projekt Red has also halted sales via its GOG platform in Russia and Belarus.
As reported by The Verge, EA Games has removed Russian teams from some of its biggest sports games, including FIFA and NHL, and has cut off all sales to Russia and Belarus.
The moves come after Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykhailo Federov called for Xbox and PlayStation to “temporarily block” Russian and Belorussian accounts and halt their participation in esport events.
@Xbox @PlayStation— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) March 2, 2022
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
Federov later asked other developers, including Epic Games, Nintendo, Rockstar, and Tencent to halt their games in Russia, as well.