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Belarus’ biggest games company is leaving the country — and Russia

World of Tanks developer Wargaming to close studios and transfer operation of games

Inside Minsk Offices Of Wargaming, Makers Of World Of Tanks Photo: Getty Images
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Wargaming, the developer of the online military games World of Tanks, World of Warships, and World of Warplanes, has announced that it will pull out of operations in Russia and Belarus and move to close its studios in the two countries following the invasion of Ukraine.

While many games companies have withdrawn from the Russian and Belarusian markets in recent weeks, this move is particularly significant. Wargaming, now headquartered in Cyprus, was originally a Belarusian company and, until now, has maintained a major studio in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

In a statement posted to LinkedIn, Wargaming said it had started the process of closing its Minsk studio. It also said that, effective March 31, it had transferred the business of operating its games in Russia and Belarus to Lesta Studio, a Russian developer that Wargaming acquired in 2011, but which “is no longer affiliated with Wargaming,” according to the statement. The games will remain available in Russia and Belarus under Lesta’s ownership.

“The company will not profit from this process either today or going forward. Much to the contrary we expect to suffer substantial losses as a direct result of this decision,” the statement said. World of Tanks is a very popular game in Russia.

Wargaming also owns a studio in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and employs over 500 people there. In February, Wargaming fired creative director Sergey Burkatovskiy after he made a statement in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Facebook. Burkatovskiy’s stance “categorically does not reflect the position of the company,” Wargaming told PC Gamer.

At the same time, Wargaming made a donation of $1 million to the Ukrainian Red Cross, and said in a statement that “all available company resources are helping and supporting our 550+ colleagues [in Ukraine]: providing them with alternate housing, early salary payments, additional funds to aid travel and relocation. We are helping our employees’ families to travel to neighbouring countries and organizing accommodation for them.”

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