Mar 2, 2022 - Technology

Ukraine calls on gaming industry to suspend business with Russia

Photo of a man at a podium
Ukrainian minister Mykhailo Fedorov in May 2001. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The Ukrainian government is beseeching video game companies and esports operators to cut off Russian gamers and esports teams.

Why it matters: The request is an attempt to rally Russian opposition to their country's invasion of Ukraine. It was issued in a letter published online this morning by Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation.

  • Fedorov called on games companies "to temporarily block all Russian and Belorussian accounts, temporarily stop the participation of Russian and Belorussian teams and gamers in all international esports events and cancel all international events holding on the territory of Russia and Belarus."
  • "We are sure that such actions will motivate the citizens of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression."
  • On Twitter, Fedorov tagged Xbox and PlayStation on the request.
  • Reps for both platforms did not immediately comment. Xbox parent Microsoft has been assisting Ukraine's cyber defense against Russia.

Fedorov also urged Riot Games, EA, Ubisoft, Gameloft and Wargaming to shut their offices in Russia.

  • "There’s no place for aggressor on the global technological map," he wrote.
  • Reps for the publishers didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Ubisoft and Wargaming both recently detailed steps the studios were taking to support and protect hundreds of their developers who are based in Ukraine.

Between the lines: Many video game companies outside of Ukraine have expressed support for the country by pledging humanitarian relief.

  • Few in the sector have already taken the steps Fedorov requested today.
  • But on Saturday, the Ukrainian digital marketplace DMarket, which sells digital gear for Counter-Strike GO, told Axios it was blocking Russian and Belarusian accounts and freezing those users' assets.
  • Two esports organizations, BLAST Premier and Elisa Esports, have both banned Russian teams, Dot Esports reports.
  • Ukrainian development studios have asked the public to donate to defense efforts.

The big picture: Entertainment and tech businesses around the world have been halting business with Russia as part of a pressure campaign.

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