Hit freemium developer Wargaming is abandoning its operations in Belarus and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, now in its 39th day. The World of Tanks maker said it has turned over live operations of its games in both countries to its now-former studio in Russia and will “not profit from this process either today or going forward.” The company will also shut down its Minsk studio, where it was originally founded over two decades ago.
Wargaming, now headquartered in Cyprus, announced on LinkedIn today it would close its original office after Belarusian and Russian forces launched an invasion of neighboring Ukraine beginning February 24. It has also transferred live operation of World of Tanks and its other popular live-service military games to Lesta Studio, located in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Wargaming acquired Lesta in 2011, but said it will not be affiliated with the studio moving forward. .
“Over the past weeks, Wargaming has been conducting a strategic review of business operations worldwide,” it wrote. “The company has decided it will not own or operate any businesses in Russia and Belarus and will leave both countries.” Wargaming said it will provide “severance and support as possible” to employees affected by the closure of its original Minsk studio.
The change comes as Russian forces recently retreated from around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, which recent reports say has surfaced new horrors in the ongoing war, including mass graves in suburbs northwest of the city. One of Wargaming’s studios is located in Kyiv and employs roughly 550 developers.
In the weeks since the war began, many tech and entertainment companies have instituted boycotts of Russia, including Microsoft, Amazon, and others. This includes some of the biggest gaming publishers like EA, Ubisoft, and Activision Blizzard as well. Developers big and small have sold game bundles and run charity events for victims of the war, with Epic Games recently announcing over $144 million raised.
While Ukraine-based developers like Frogwares and GSC Game World are under siege, game companies elsewhere have had to step in and moderate discussion of the war. World of Tanks competitor War Thunder revealed it had shut off in-game communication to stop players from arguing about the conflict, and Wargaming itself fired one of its creative directors shortly after the invasion began when he publicly endorsed it. The World of Tanks maker recently donated $1 million to the Ukrainian Red Cross.