Game developers pull games from Russia in response to invasion

The Witcher 3 Image Official
The Witcher 3 Image Official (Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

What you need to know

  • Russia is invading Ukraine.
  • Multiple game companies in and around Ukraine have engaged in fundraising efforts to support Ukraine.
  • Several companies are now pulling their games from being available for purchase in Russia.

Update, March 4 (11:33 am ET): Electronic Arts is also pulling its games from being available for sale in Russia and Belarus.

Update, March 4 (11:45 pm ET): Microsoft is suspending sales of its products in Russia, including Xbox consoles and software.

Update, March 4 (10:00 pm ET): Amazon is ceasing work on the Russian localization of New World.

Russia is invading Ukraine, resulting in a war with mounting casualties and the disruption of life for millions. Now, multiple gaming studios and publishers are starting to take action by pulling or limiting their games in Russia.

Bloober Team, known for its work on horror games like The Medium, is working to pull its games from sale in Russia and Belarus, noting on Twitter that "We want to be a part of a world that doesn't turn a blind eye to warmongering. And we won't stay neutral when human lives are at stake."

CD Projekt RED, the developer responsible for The Witcher games and Cyberpunk 2077 — the latter of which recently relaunched with a host of updates — is now suspending digital sales and physical shipments of products to Russia and Belarus. This includes game sales on GOG, the PC storefront owned and operated by the developer's parent company, CD Projekt.

"We know that players in Russia and Belarus, individuals who have nothing to do with the invasion of Ukraine, will be impacted by this decision, but with this action we wish to further galvanize the global community to speak about what is going on in the heart of Europe," CD Projekt Red's statement explains.

Finally, publisher Electronic Arts (EA) is pulling Russian clubs from FIFA 22, FIFA Mobile, and FIFA Online. EA is also "actively evaluating related changes" to other games, per a statement on Twitter.

This comes just a few days after multiple gaming companies shared fundraising efforts for Ukraine, while roundly condemning the invasion. Studios in Ukraine are being affected by the war, with GSC Game World ceasing development on Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl until the invasion ends.

Update, March 4 (11:33 am ET) — EA doubles down

Following the initial step of removing Russian clubs from FIFA titles, EA is now ceasing the sale of its games and service in Russia and Belarus. In the announcement, EA noted that "We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine" and that further possible actions are being reviewed.

Update, March 4 (11:45 am ET) — Microsoft pulls products

Microsoft is suspending sales of its products in Russia. This includes sales of Xbox consoles and software. Microsoft president Brad Smith referred to the invasion as "unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful" in a statement accompaying the news.

Update, March 4 (10:00 pm ET) — New World's Russian localization canceled

Speaking with TechRadar, Amazon Games confirmed that it is halting the Russian localization of New World.

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

  • Ffs this is beyond ridiculous now.... What do players in Russia have to do with the war? Not to mention that I don't remember any games being pulled from the US when they invaded Iraq, Afghanistan, Líbia, etc etc. The virtual signaling is just ridiculous beyond belief
  • Huge difference... The U.S. had a legitimate reason to go to war and only attacked military targets... Russia's war is illegal and has been condemned by all but Russia and it's puppets...
  • The free market says companies can pick and choose which countries/markets to do business with. If you don't like it, what's that expression I heard all the time growing up in the US... oh yeah, move to Russia (or China).
  • Free markets do not prevent criticism for decisions. It'S a PrIvAtE cOmPaNy is a weak defense of criticism against any company for their decisions.
  • Agreed. And there's no way to spin what an overreaction this all is. Trying to defend it by pulling the private company card is absolutely ridiculous. Seriously, what's next? Fire employees who are Russian?
  • Slippery Slope arguments are a logical fallacy. Western companies do not sell products in North Korea either. Sanctions are serious and corporations that violate the sanctions against Russia can and likely would face swift legal action. Furthermore, there is a value statement here as well. None of it is an attack on the Russian people. It is a response to the Russian government's aggression, a choice it is making. Collapsing the economy will assist in undermining their military over the long run thus reducing the threat of such aggression.
  • Yes, this is absolutely an attack on the Russian people and nothing else. Nobody in the Russian government plays videogames. In fact, the kind of people who do are also the kind of people who are the least likely to support Putin. And you're giving his propaganda ammunition by your moronic virtue signalling.
  • You should be more concerned about the actual attack on the Ukrainian people "and nothing else". Or are you based in Russia? If this is so, I understand your concern, but you should be more careful when you elect your leaders.
  • When games are sold in Russia, the government collects taxes on the economic activity. The point of attacking a nation's economy is that by default you collapse it's ability to finance it's military. No, Putin is not likely a gamer so I'm pretty certain he could care less about these actions on their own. But presiding over his own economic collapse also means that when he runs out of cash there won't be more coming in (Russia has substantial reserves). Without money, good luck continuing expansion or maintaining what he has stolen.
  • David is exactly and 100% correct. I don't know what's in their minds, obviously, but I suspect that no one at any of these companies or in the US State Department wants to harm any of the Russian people. We (Americans) generally view them as additional victims of Putin's consolidation of authoritarian control. However, a government can only wage war to the extent its people can support it. The USSR collapsed largely (not exclusively) because it couldn't afford the military spending needed to protect its empire. In addition to the tax impact for funding Putin's war in the Ukraine achieved by strangling off all global economic activity with Russia, to the extent that the Russian people associate the negative impact on their lives with Putin's invasion of the Ukraine (and I suspect many do make that connection, even if there is no coverage in the Russian news on the subject), that increases the likelihood that Putin is removed from power, either by his choice (seeing the writing on the wall) or otherwise. Ultimately, even dictators need to choose their policies with some consideration for how their people will react. The people are much less kind to dictators who fall out of power (generally they end up dead or imprisoned) than even the most reviled democratically elected former leaders.
  • As if this has anything to do with the "free market". I'm sure these companies would much rather make money in the Russian market, than not, selling a product that has nothing to do with the Russian government, or the war. They did this due to pressure from western governments, or even worse, for Twitter likes.
  • Or maybe because Putin attacked a free country?
  • I agree to a point. It would be different if these companies were doing business directly with the government. That would actually serve a purpose.
  • It does serve a purpose. If you hurt the economy of the Russian government then you also hurt their military. The is the purpose of sanctions. I agree that it isn't the people's fault, unfortunately the sanctions (and loss of consumer products) will only hurt them for the foreseeable future. They didn't choose this war, and they probably didn't choose this idiot as their government elections are a true example of a rigged system full of corruption. It is unfortunate they are stuck in this situation, but it also unfortunate that their government decided to commit war crimes against civilians (look into the use of thermobaric bombs) while attacking a sovereign nation unprovoked.
  • So as an American, I was mildly sympathetic to Russia not wanting the NATO alliance to boarder their country. We wouldn't have been happy if Mexico wanted to join the Warsaw Pact either. But Russia treating Ukraine like **** Germany treated Poland in 1939 has erased that sympathy. Unlike in WWII, NATO can't get militarily involved without starting a nuclear war. As such I think turning Russia into an economic pariah state is the most appropriate course of action. Sadly, innocent Russians will be affected by actions like this, but innocent Ukrainians are being killed. Hopefully this makes life in Russia unpleasant enough for them to depose Putin and withdraw. At that point these measures should all be reversed and Russia welcomed back with open arms.
  • I mean, we weren't happy with Cuba, but we also didn't launch a full scale invasion and murder tens of thousands of civilians.
  • I agree with you.
  • Agreed. Ive even seen restaurants removing the name Russia from certain dishes or even restaurant names. It's ludacris and shameful. Meanwhile, everyone loves still doing business with China.
  • Yeah, that's not the same thing and is completely ridiculous. I will continue to drink white Russians thank you very much.
  • Easy for you, being already in Russia. Also, for the site administrators, you should be monitoring more carefully the comments for articles like this, they attract Putin's trolls like crazy.
  • Wow, did you really just come in here and comment on one line without reading the rest of what I wrote? I clearly talked about the war crimes being committed before I talked about how silly it was to rename a cocktail. You don't have to be a Russian troll to think it silly that someone renamed a cocktail in response to an unprovoked war.
  • Glad to hear this... Games companies should turn off online server access to Russia and their puppet friends... Microsoft and Sony should also turn off access to Xbox live and PSN...
  • Yeah, because it's obviously the Russians that are at home playing video games that are fighting in the War. They certainly wouldn't be the citizens that formed protests across 51 different Russian cities.
  • Exactly. This is directed in the wrong place.
  • These things usually are. As I said in an above comment, it does serve a purpose, but it it won't in the short term. It is an unfortunate situation all around.
  • That shows that this is in exactly the right place. The harsher the convenience cost to Russians at home, the higher likelihood of Putin having to withdraw or risk being overthrown. Their economy was improving until the invasion of Crimea in 2014, then it stagnated from sanctions. Now it is in free fall from the world's response to the full invasion. Even if the people can't force the government to withdraw, the loss of taxable transactions will hurt Russia's ability to fund its war machine in the long run.
  • Yeah, because Putin cares if video games are sold in Russia or not. 🙄
  • So US and Saudi Genocide in Yemen for the last 8 years is all fine, but Russian invasion of Ukraine is off limits.
    Absurd levels of hypocrisy.
    A minimum of 14,000 Eastern Ukrainians have been slaughtered mostly by Ukrainian Nazis & Fascists since 2014 & that gets no mention or protests. Anyone believing The Western media is also protecting Nazis in Ukraine.
    PS Putin is the other wicked side of Capitalist domination competition, but far less guilty than Western criminality.
  • Thanks Comrade. Yes, we are the US and we are full of hypocrisy. I'm not sure what you are talking about, but what we see is a large country attacking another unprovoked. Maybe if the Russian Government wasn't actively killing civilians at the moment we could possibly see them as the "good guys"?
  • The Russians are being very careful not to kill any civilians and its the white nationalists (asof battalion) that are using civilians as human shields. Guys 99% of what the western media is broadcasting is nonsense. Follow independent channels on YouTube like the Duran or the Greyzone to know what is actually going on.
  • Sure thing, comrade, you’re completely & utterly brain washed, so sad to see.
  • So they also didn't launch thermobaric bombs either right? I guess all the kids fleeing the country because their homes are getting destroyed must be because of friendly fire too right? 🤦
  • Avatar of Apathy, exactly right, and there are also first-hand reports from reporters, most of whom have no reason to lie -- their incentive is to get the story first, most of them don't care what that story is. Yes, they could be lying, but there's no evidence to suggest they are, and given the large quantity of these reports from multiple news organizations from diverse nations, with varied political perspectives, and given that they have shown photographs and recorded interviews chronicling their stories, certainly seems clear Russia is indeed harming, maiming, and killing civilians at a rate too high to just be an occasional accident. Maybe Russia isn't intending to specifically target civilians, but when you fire artillery or imprecise missiles at a city, that seems an easy consequence to predict. At best, Putin and the Russian military are incompetent if they are trying not to harm civilians. More likely, to me, they are doing it on purpose in the hope of breaking the will of the Ukrainian people to fight, by scaring them into submission.
  • Yep, there is massive hypocrisy, no doubt. But it's also true that what's happening in Ukraine is horrible, and your focus on the hypocrisy betrays your lack of sympathy. Do you feel smarter now? Do you feel so clever that you exposed this obvious hypocrisy everyone is aware of?
  • The US has definitely made some moral mistakes along the way. But wars in the Middle East don't initiate World Wars. The US also hasn't launched a war of conquest in over 100 years, and has never threatened to use nuclear weapons to deter other countries from intervening in its military operations. Neither side is completely clean, but don't pretend NATO and Russia are morally equivalent.
  • shit the us/west have done is deplorable and shouldn't be ignored, and often it isnt. labour in the UK hasn't been able to get back into power since the Iraq war, and is often cited by ex-labour voters as the reason why they won't vote for them anymore. 1m people marched and protested labour's involvement in the war, the govt ignored the protests.
  • That isn't even their fault. That war was the fault of the Bush administration who knowingly lied to the world to convince them that Iraq was a threat due to "weapons of mass destruction", WETF that is supposed to mean. Many people said those lies were tantamount to war crimes, and at the time I tended to agree, but we have done so much worse.
  • Avatar of Apathy, all of that is fair except for the "knowingly lied" part. Colin Powell, US intelligence, British intelligence and other nations' intelligence reports all confirmed (wrongly, as it turned out), that Iraq had WMD -- especially mass stockpiles of chemical agents. You can criticize the judgement of the war, and you can certainly criticize the validity of the intelligence reports as wrong. Further, I always respect a skeptic of anything any government or politician claims, but absent any evidence to the contrary, it's just another wacky conspiracy theory to suggest that Powell lied to the UN when he presented his data and satellite photos showing Iraq's WMD arsenal. Further, it was in defense of a UN resolution that the US and other nations invaded Iraq (the one passed after Powell presented the intelligence data to the UN), which has absolutely no similarity to Putin's invasion of the Ukraine. Further on that, the Congress authorized the invasion with massive bi-partisan support. It was only after no WMD were found that Tom Daschle and then others flipped and started a massive PR campaign against the invasion, including some revisionist history, like Bush lying about the evidence, when Daschle and others, seeing the same evidence, also highly promoted the invasion (Hilary Clinton was particularly vocal about the need to go into Iraq). Is it possible the Bush administration and the other national intelligence organizations were lying? Sure. It's possible. But that's not sufficient to level that kind of a charge at an administration or individual people absent evidence, especially when the evidence that does exist suggests the opposite. And if you're going to elevate it all the way to War Crimes (absurd, in my opinion), then you must apply an innocent-until-proven-guilty-beyond-any-reasonable-doubt standard, which is much harder to prove. The Occam's Razor explanation for everyone believing Iraq had WMD was either that Saddam Hussein wanted them to believe it, because he believed it gave him leverage and power, so he moved empty containers around to deceive the world or, as documented in some reports (though I'm not sure on their validity), that Hussein himself also actually believed many or all of these tanks were full and that his own people were lying to him out of fear of being executed if they told him they hadn't been able to manufacture the weapon compounds he had ordered.
  • More ignorant or troll, you die. The united states of america is the only country in history of humankind to have used nuclear weapons upon innocence civilians.
    Check Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Educate yourself.
  • Stop using Google Translate, it's a dead giveaway.
  • Maybe a better tactic is to find a way to force them to play Cyberpunk 2077 on the original XBO.
  • This is sooooooooo much more useful than sanctioning their oil and gas.
    Lets hurt the citizens in Russia who have no choice in anything that is happening.
    Stupid is as stupid does.
  • even if they weren't doing it for moral reasons, the reality is they can't do business in a country without SWIFT.
  • This isn't helping Ukraine. I don't give a damn about Ukraine one way or the other just like I didnt care about the middle east. It's not our moral or financial responsibility to save everyone. Our own country hasn't come first in a long time. Remember how long it took to get covid relief where most of the money went to the government and they packed the bills full of awful antivape laws among other non related legislation? The Russian people don't control Putin anymore than we have control over this 2 party millionaire ruled system over here. Putin wont feel these sanctions or boycotts at all. He will still be rich as hell and in absolute control no matter what ppl do. The Russian ppl will suffer though. one humanitarian crisis in russia isn't going to save Ukraine. Too many idiots are in charge of this world is the problem.
  • Good thing that you have access to internet and can exercise your free speech.