Activision Blizzard is suspending new "to and from" sales of its games in Russia, the game company's president, Daniel Alegre, announced in a publicly shared letter to employees (via Eurogamer). The move bars Russians from any further dealings with the company, which includes both sales of its games and in-game purchases.
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The press release does not specify whether the ban includes both digital and physical games. However, it highlights some of the contributions the company and its employees have made to Ukraine and also offers resources for war-affected workers. The crisis in Ukraine comes at a sensitive time in Activision Blizzard's history - the company continues to face criticism after being sued last year for allegedly promoting a toxic work culture.
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"We are doing everything we can to help the employees and their families who have been directly affected by this tragedy," Alegre said in the letter. “If you or a colleague need help, don't hesitate to contact your manager or the local HR department. I also want to remind you that our Employee Assistance Program is available for those who need emotional support during this difficult time. »
Activision Blizzard joins a growing list of game companies that have ceased operations in Russia. Microsoft, which announced its intention to buy Activision Blizzard in January, has decided to ban "new" sales of its products and services in Russia and Belarus - a block that includes not only Xbox games, but also products related to Windows, Office and Microsoft. includes 365 and above.
Meanwhile, EA Games removed Russian teams from its FIFA and NHL games and then halted all sales to Russia and Belarus. Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red has also taken similar action to block physical and digital sales to customers in both countries. In particular, Activision Blizzard did not block sales to Belarus, Russia's economic partner. The Verge contacted Activision Blizzard for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
Shortly after Activision Blizzard's announcement, Epic Games said it was "stopping trade with Russia" in its games, noting that it would not ban Russian players from accessing them. It's unclear whether the Fortnite developer's trade ban applies to microtransactions, games, or both.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Federov asked Xbox and PlayStation to "temporarily suspend" Russian and Belarusian accounts and stop participating in esports events. He then asked a number of developers, including Epic Games, Nintendo, Rockstar and Tencent, to shut down their games in Russia.
Disclosure: Casey Wasserman serves on the board of Activision Blizzard and the board of Vox Media, parent company of The Verge.