This weekend, Activision Blizzard, Microsoft and Epic Games announced that they were suspending their services in Russia, due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. They join big names like Netflix, EA Games and CDPR in essentially boycotting the country over its illegal war.
Addressing Activision employees, but also made public on their website, COO Daniel Alegre wrote, “Today, we are announcing that Activision Blizzard will be suspending new sales of and in our games in Russia while this conflict continues.”
The letter goes on to detail the support the beleaguered company has in place to support affected employees, while pledging unspecified support for Ukrainians, alongside $300,000 raised by Activision employees and matched 2:1 by the publisher. Alegre also recognizes Polish colleagues for their support of Ukrainian refugees, and finishes, “We stand with the Ukrainian people and will provide updates on any new actions we take as this crisis continues to unfold.”
Meanwhile, Epic Games has tweeted that it’s “stopping commerce with Russia” as a result of the invasion. They add that they are not blocking access, however, stating that their software is a “communication tool.” “The free world should keep all lines of dialogue open.”
As this article was being written, Ubisoft added a one-line statement to their post from last week regarding the safety of their Ukrainian employees, declaring their plan to do the same. “In light of the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, we have decided to suspend our sales in Russia.”
Before the weekend, Microsoft responded to the Ukrainian First Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov’s call to Xbox and PlayStation to suspend sales in Russia. Microsoft wrote a blog post on Friday saying it was to “suspend all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia.” The company said of the invasion that it was “ horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia.”
CNBC reported yesterday that Netflix has also suspended its services in Russia, albeit to the fewer than one million subscribers in the country. Last week also saw Amazon Games suspending Russian localization of their games, EA say they’re working on removing Russian teams from NHL 22 and FIFA 22, and the ESL announced they would not be allowing teams with ties to the Russian government nor sanctioned individuals. However, they’ve stopped short of banning Russian players, so long as they “compete under a neutral name.”
Joining them was CD Projekt Red, who on Thursday tweeted their intention to halt all sales to Russia and Belarus, including those on their online PC store, GOG.
PlayStation appear to be a bit more ambiguous in their actions, apparently pulling Gran Turismo 7 from their Russian store, but without making any public statement about the decision. No further information has appeared on their blog or social media. (We’ve contacted Sony to ask them about their intentions, and will update should we hear back.)
Quite how much impact these suspensions will have on the Russian government remains unclear. Obviously, a large factor at times like these becomes the importance of being seen to be taking some sort of action, even if the results are only to affect Russian citizens completely uninvolved in the invasion.