How the games industry has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

A round-up of all the action taken by developers and studios across the globe

The games industry has rallied to condemn Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine – here’s a roundup of everything that’s happened so far.

On February 24, Russia sent military forces into Ukraine. The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has estimated that between that date and March 15, the conflict has claimed 1,900 civilian casualties. The UN (via BBC) also estimates that there are nearly 1.85million internally displaced people within Ukraine.

The invasion has drawn global condemnation, and countries across the world have hit Russia with severe financial sanctions. Within the games industry, several studios and companies have also taken action – with responses ranging from charity fundraisers to cutting off sales in Russia.

Some studios have been directly affected by the invasion – Ubisoft recently shared that it will provide alternate housing and early paychecks for its employees in Ukraine, while Kyiv-based studio GSC Game World announced that Stalker 2: Heart Of Chernobyl development has been “shifted to the sidelines” and will be picked back up “after the victory”. The same studio later changed the game’s title to Heart Of Chornobyl to reflect the region’s Ukrainian spelling.

Stalker 2: Heart Of Chernobyl
Stalker 2: Heart Of Chernobyl. Credit:

To support those caught in the Ukraine conflict, several major studios across the world have opted to make donations to charities providing help in the region. 11 Bit Studios announced that it raised £520K from sales of This War Of Mine over the last week, which will be sent to the Red Cross in Ukraine.

Likewise, Doom co-creator John Romero recently created an all-new Doom 2 level to raise money for the Red Cross and UN Central Emergency Response Fund.

Another big donation came from Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 creator CD Projekt Red, who donated approximately £181,000 to Polska Akcja Humanitarna, a humanitarian organisation located in Poland.

Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077. Credit: CD Projekt RED

More recently (March 13), Elden Ring publisher Bandai Namco donated £650,000 to charity organisation Save The Children, and said it hopes “that the people and communities affected by this crisis will be able to return to peaceful days as soon as possible.”

Two days after that (March 15), Square Enix donated £383,417 to The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and shared hopes that “peace will be restored, and that those affected by the crisis will regain peaceful life as quickly as possible”.

Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077. Credit: CD Projekt RED

Across the industry, individual game developers teamed up to create a Bundle For Ukraine, a collection of nearly 1000 games that donated all proceeds to Voices of Children and International Medical Corps. In its ten-day run, Bundle For Ukraine raised £4.8million from 449,625 contributors.

Outside of charity fundraising, several large game studios have also moved to halt their titles being sold in Russia and Belarus.

On March 4, Microsoft halted all product sales in Russia and the company’s president, Brad Smith, claimed that the country’s “cyber attacks against civilians violate the Geneva Convention”.

On the same day, PlayStation pulled Gran Turismo 7 from sale in Russia on the day of its launch, though Sony is yet to make an announcement. This follows Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov calling for both PlayStation and Xbox to “temporarily block all Russian and Belorussian accounts.”

Gran Turismo 7
‘Gran Turismo 7’. CREDIT: Polyphony Digital

CD Projekt Red has also stopped selling its games in Russia and Belarus, a decision that was mirrored by Layers Of Fear creator Bloober Team several hours later.

EA also halted sales of all “games and content” in Russia, and announced that all Russian clubs from its FIFA and NHL games would be removed.

Many other companies – including Activision, Epic Games, Take-Two, and Nintendo – have also stopped selling their products in Russia. On March 18, it was also reported that Valve had questionably halted payments to Steam developers based in Ukraine.

In the world of esports, Ukrainian team Navi shared that it would not be leaving the war-torn country, and shared that “Now more than ever it is important to speak up about what is happening here and support each other.”

Various Valorant Agents
Valorant. Credit: Riot Games

Shortly afterward, Russian esports organisation Gambit allowed its players to compete in a Valorant tournament independently and without the team’s branding.

In other news, the in-game economy of Escape From Tarkov has crashed due its primary currency being tied to the real-world Russian rouble, which has tanked in value due to international sanctions.

In the music world, multiple artists have cancelled shows taking place in Russia, including Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsFranz Ferdinand and Yungblud while Live Nation have confirmed they won’t be promoting any shows in the country for the foreseeable future.

Yungblud joins Bring Me The Horizon on stage at The O2, London. Credit: Conor McDonnell
Yungblud joins Bring Me The Horizon on stage at The O2, London. Credit: Conor McDonnell

Ukrainian electro-pop duo Bloom Twins told NME the situation in their home country was “terrifying”.

At the BandLab NME Awards 2022Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes used the bands closing set to speak about the conflict in Ukraine.

The band displayed the Ukrainian flag on their drum kit for the duration of their six-song set and before ‘Throne’, Sykes spoke to the crowd. “I guess it’s better being here in a room full of influential people: they need to use their voice every single day until this crisis is over.”

“If Kyiv does not survive, international peace will not survive,” he added.

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