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Ukrainian official calls for Xbox, PlayStation, and others to bar Russian players amid invasion

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Ukraine’s deputy prime minister urges Microsoft, Sony, and others to take action

Camp And Hunger Strike In Support Of Ukraine In Barcelona Photo: Albert Llop/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, is urging gaming companies like Microsoft and Sony to temporarily pull out of Russian markets and block Russian accounts amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

In an open letter published Wednesday on Twitter, Fedorov suggested these actions will “motivate the citizens of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression.” The deputy prime minister specifically called on Microsoft and Sony to bar players on their Xbox and PlayStation platforms. “You are definitely aware of what is happening in Ukraine right now,” Fedorov tweeted. “If you support human values, you should [leave] the Russian market.”

Polygon has reached out to console makers Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo for comment. We’ve also contacted platform holders and esports tournament organizers — like Valve, GOG, Epic Games, Riot Games, ESL Gaming, Intel, and Activision Blizzard. We’ll update this story with information as it comes in.

The full text from Fedorov’s letter is republished below.

To all game development companies and esports platforms,

The Russian Federation has carried out a deceptive and outrageous military attack on my country! Just imagine, in 2022, cruise missiles attack residential neighborhoods, kindergartens and hospitals in the heart of Europe.

The armed forces and citizens are defending Ukraine till the end! The whole world is repelling the aggressor through the imposition of sanctions — the enemy must suffer significant losses. But we need your support — in 2022, modern technology is perhaps the best answer to tanks, multiple rocket launchers (hrad) and missiles.

I am sure that you will not only hear, but also do everything possible to protect Ukraine, Europe, and, finally, the entire democratic world from bloody authoritarian aggression — and I appeal to temporarily block all Russian and Belarusian 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.

Russian troops moved into Ukraine in late February in a devastating and unprovoked attack on the country. Fighting has continued in intensify since then, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the country as refugees. The United Nations reported Tuesday that there had been hundreds of civilian causalities. “The real toll is likely to be much higher,” U.N. human rights office spokesperson Liz Throssel said, as reported by Reuters.

The video game industry has worked to support Ukraine and developers impacted by the war, with hundreds of thousands of donations amassed so far. Ukrainian developers in the country told Polygon that teams have been underground in bomb shelters amid intense bombing. Others are fleeing the country.

“We want to keep testing Unreal Engine 5 and porting shooter games to consoles, not hiding in bomb shelters and not knowing what happens [in the] next hour,” Tymur Solod of Pingle Studios, an outsourcing company with 250 employees and three offices in Ukraine, told Polygon. “They attack peaceful cities and civilians. The number of civilian victims is being counted in [the] hundreds right now, including children.”

Beyond financial support and humanitarian aid, no video game company has issued sanctions regarding Russian players. Other tech companies, like Apple, have halted sales in Russia. Similarly, some Russians can no longer use Google Pay and Apple Pay using a bank card due to government sanctions, according to The Verge. In the entertainment world, a number of companies pulled film releases in Russia citing the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

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