Ukraine has asked game publishers to turn up the heat on Russia by calling on Xbox, PlayStation and “all game development companies” to block their access to Russian citizens.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, put out his call for the game industry as well as “esports platforms” to cut off gamers in Russia and Belarus, in an open letter directed to Xbox and PlayStation in particular.
Posting on Twitter, Fedorov tagged the Xbox and PlayStation accounts, writing: “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 [sic] the Russian market!”
The letter calls on the services, which are run by Microsoft and Sony, to “temporarily block all Russian and Belarusian accounts, temporarily stop the participation of Russian and Belarusian teams and gamers in all international esports events and cancel all international events holding on the territory of Russia and Belarus.”
Fedorov likely included Belarus in the request because of its support of Russia.
“We are sure that such actions will motivate the citizens of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression,” said Fedorov in the letter.
In a separate tweet, the Ukrainian politician called on Riot Games (“League of Legends,” “Valorant”), Ubisoft, EA Games, Gameloft, and Wargaming to shutter their Russian offices.
The move would put thousands of Russian employees out of work.
Two esports organizations, BLAST Premier and Elisa Esports, have announced bans on Russian teams, and a number of platforms have begun restricting Russian players from accessing their services. DMarket, which sells digital gear for video games and NFTs, blocked Russian and Belarussian accounts and seized their digital assets, Axios reported.
Ukraine has made similar appeals to YouTube, Twitter, Google, and Facebook to completely deplatform Russian state media and government officials — a move backed by members of the European Union. All four companies have taken steps to ban or mitigate Russian state media from having its content disseminated online.
The efforts dovetail with a larger global strategy to punish Russians for the invasion, including Visa, Mastercard, Google and Apple’s halt on payment services to Russians, Rebel News reported.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the video game industry has rallied to support Ukraine, including publishers like Crytek and Ubisoft, which have offices in Ukrainian cities.
Polish-based developers like CD Projekt Red (“Witcher 3,” “Cyberpunk 2077”), 11 Bit Studios (“Frostpunk”, “This War of Mine”), and the North American company Bungie have offered support to the victims by donating proceeds from sales of their video games to relief efforts in Ukraine.
“STALKER 2” developer GSC Game World was one of the many teams who issued statements on the Ukraine invasion. Based in Kiev, the developers of post-apocalyptic survival horror games called on the video game industry to help support Ukraine’s armed forces.