Update, March 10: Destiny 2 developer Bungie has now added its name to the growing list of game companies sanctioning Russia in the wake of its attack on Ukraine.
All Destiny 2 sales will be suspended in Russia and Belarus, Bungie said. The studio is also releasing a free in-game emblem to raise awareness and show support for Ukraine. Bungie says the emblem redemption code will be released in its next weekly blog post.
Bungie stands with the people of Ukraine and everyone impacted by the ongoing war.Starting today, we will be working with our partners to suspend all Destiny 2 sales and commerce in Russia and Belarus.https://t.co/zS9slidhH0 pic.twitter.com/N2M8H5NYZuMarch 9, 2022
Update, March 9: Sony Interactive Entertainment has now formally suspended all software and hardware sales in Russia, including PlayStation Store operations.
In a statement, the company affirmed it “joins the global community in calling for peace in Ukraine.” A week ago, Sony announced (opens in new tab) a $2 million donation to be split between the UN Refugee Agency (opens in new tab) and Save the Children (opens in new tab).
Sony’s statement also confirms that the launch of Gran Turismo 7, which was quietly pulled from the Russian PlayStation Store earlier this month, has been halted in the region.
pic.twitter.com/1KV95QiFHNMarch 9, 2022
Update, March 7: Ubisoft and Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive are the latest major publishers to halt sales in Russia over the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
In a statement (via Mashable (opens in new tab)), spokesperson Alan Lewis said that Take-Two had “watched recent events unfold in Ukraine with concern and sadness. After significant consideration, last week, we decided to stop new sales, installations, and marketing support across all our labels in Russia and Belarus at this time.”
Take-Two’s approach differs from some of the other publishers’, in that it appears to limit the access that those who own its games in the region will have, suggesting that players won’t be able to install games if they’re currently not loaded onto their systems.
Earlier today, Nintendo Russia confirmed that the region’s eShop had been placed into ‘maintenance mode’ due to issues with processing payments. Elsewhere, Ubisoft updated its statement (opens in new tab) to say that “in light of the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, we have decided to suspend our sales in Russia.”
Epic Games, Activision, and EA have all joined Microsoft in pulling their services from Russia.
In a tweet (opens in new tab)from its Newsroom account, Epic said that it was “stopping commerce with Russia in our games” as a direct result of the conflict. It also clarified that it would not block access to games for those who already own them “for the same reason other communication tools remain online: the free world should keep all lines of dialogue open.”
Epic’s move is the latest in a series of similar moves from Microsoft, Activision Blizzard, and EA.
In a letter to employees shared with the public on March 5, Activision Blizzard president and COO Daniel Alegre said that the company “will be suspending new sales of and in our games in Russia while this conflict continues.” Alegre says that the company is also matching employee donations “2:1 to organizations providing immediate relief in the region.”
Activision Blizzard’s decision to halt purchases “of and in” its games seems particularly significant given its apparent focus on microtransactions and potentially even subscription fees. Several of its games – including Call of Duty: Warzone and World of Warcraft – owe their continued development to ongoing payment models rather than one-off purchases.
In its statement (opens in new tab) on Friday, EA pledged to “stop sales of our games and content, including virtual currency bundles, in Russia and Belarus.”
EA focuses specifically on the sale of its games and bundles rather than existing purchases, and the publisher confirmed in an email to GamesRadar that it is “not shutting down access to local services at this time, meaning players who have already purchased a title in the region will still be able to access their game.” However, EA says it is also “working with our platform partners to remove our titles from their stores and stop the sale of new in-game content in the region.”
EA reiterated that it is “actively evaluating other areas of our games and operations” amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. The publisher pulled Russian teams from several EA Sports properties just two days ago.
Microsoft was the first major publisher to make a significant step towards limiting sales of its products in Russia. In a blog post on March 4, company president Brad Smith announced that the company would “suspend all new sales of Microsoft products and service in Russia” in direct response to “this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia.”
The move came just two days after Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov called on PlayStation and Xbox to temporarily ban all Russian accounts.
More and more gaming companies and developers are beginning to act on the war in Ukraine. Earlier today, PlayStation seemingly pulled Gran Turismo 7 from Russian stores, though Sony has yet to comment on the situation directly. Yesterday, Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt suspended all digital and merch sales in Russia and Belarus.
What it’s like for Ukrainian game developers working and living in the shadow of war.