Russia openly attacked and invaded Ukraine on February 24 after weeks of mounting tensions between the two countries, with hundreds of Ukrainian citizens reportedly killed by bombings and Russian militia as a result. As the world watches this historical and terrifying event unfold, efforts have begun to aid civilians and organizations on the ground floor and those displaced, like the Ukrainian Red Cross. Many of these efforts have come from studios within the video game industry, some in the form of charity drives, others with public displays of support for Ukraine.
Game Informer will continue to update this story.
Niantic, the studio behind games like Pokemon Go, revealed on March 10 that its games are no longer available for download in Russia and Belarus as a response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Plus, gameplay for Niantic’s titles has been suspended indefinitely in Russia and Belarus.
“We stand with the global community in hoping for peace and a rapid resolution to the violence and suffering in Ukraine. Niantic’s games are no longer available for download in Russia and Belarus, and gameplay will also be suspended there shortly.”
We stand with the global community in hoping for peace and a rapid resolution to the violence and suffering in Ukraine. Niantic’s games are no longer available for download in Russia and Belarus, and gameplay will also be suspended there shortly.
Nintendo is the latest company to halt sales and shipments of its products to Russia amidst its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Joining the likes of Microsoft and PlayStation and dozens of other game studios, Nintendo has suspended all shipments to Russia for the “foreseeable future” as of March 10. Still, the company did not say this was in support of Ukraine like most publishers and studios have, as reported by IGN. The publication reached out to Nintendo to ask if it’d be providing a message of support for Ukraine, and a Nintendo spokesperson said, “We would like to express our concern for all those affected by the conflict.”
“We have decided to suspend shipping all Nintendo products to Russia for the foreseeable future,” Nintendo told IGN. “This is due to considerable volatility surrounding the logistics of shipping and distributing physical goods.”
This news comes days after Nintendo placed the Russian eShop into maintenance mode, which prevents users from buying digital games, effectively suspending all sales and downloads in the country. As IGN points out, this wasn’t necessarily done in support of Ukraine either, at least not directly and publicly. Nintendo said its payment service no longer processed Russian Rubles, forcing the eShop to close temporarily.
On top of all of this, Nintendo delayed Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp yesterday due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. It did not announce a new release date for the game.
Sony Interactive Entertainment announced on March 9 that it is suspending all sales and shipments of both hardware and digital goods in Russia amidst its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Joining the likes of Microsoft and Nintendo and dozens of other studios and publishers who have done the same, PlayStation is showing its support for Ukraine by effectively cutting Russia off from its services and titles. SIE called for peace in Ukraine in a statement to The Verge alongside this news.
“Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) joins the global community in calling for peace in Ukraine,” a spokesperson said. “We have suspended all software and hardware shipments, the launch of Gran Turismo 7, and operations of the PlayStation Store in Russia.”
This spokesperson also said that Sony announced a $2 million donation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the NGO Save the Children to support those affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Necrosoft Games, Itch.io, and More Than 700 Developers – Bundle For Ukraine
Necrosoft Games and Itch.io, a digital games storefront with a focus on indies, announced a Bundle For Ukraine on March 7 that will be live until March 18 and with it, 100% of proceeds will be split as donations to the following charities:
- International Medical Corps: This charity provides medical assistance in Ukraine. Itch.io writes that “they have very low fundraising overhead (1% of income), with 89% of donations going to medical aid and 10% to administration.
- Voices of Children: This is a Ukrainian organization that helps children cope with the horrors of war, PTSD, re-adjusting to school, and ultimately, getting back to being kids. Itch.io writes that “they have also been doing a lot of grassroots impromptu work during the war, such as helping set up shelters.”
This bundle comes at a minimum “cost” of a $10 donation and donating at least $10 (although you’re free to donate however much more you’d like) will get you nearly 1000 products like digital tabletop RPGs and books, as well as games.
“The people of Ukraine are under attack,” Itch.io writes. “As game developers, we want to create new worlds, not to destroy the one we have. That’s why we’ve banded together to present this charity bundle to help Ukrainians survive this ordeal and thrive after the war ends. This cause has resonated with creators around the globe, to the extent that our bundle contains almost 1000 games, tabletop RPGs, books, etc.”
More specifically, this bundle includes almost 600 digital games, 300 analog tabletop RPGs, and dozens of “asset packs, books, zines, and comics, soundtracks/music, and a host of other products.”
Epic Games announced on March 5 that it has suspended sales of its games in Russia as a result of the country’s unprovoked attack and invasion of Ukraine. This news comes by way of GamesIndustry.biz, which first reported that not only have sales of Epic Games’ titles been suspended in Russia, but in-game purchases are no longer allowed as well. However, Epic Games alludes that it is not ending all of its services in Russia in a Twitter statement.
“Epic is stopping commerce with Russia in our games in response to its invasion of Ukraine,” the official Epic Games Newsroom Twitter account writes. “We’re not blocking access for the same reason other communication tools remain online: the free world should keep all lines of dialogue open.”
Epic is stopping commerce with Russia in our games in response to its invasion of Ukraine. We’re not blocking access for the same reason other communication tools remain online: the free world should keep all lines of dialogue open.
Activision Blizzard has suspended all sales of its games, both physical and digital, and associated in-game microtransactions in Russia as a result of its unprovoked attack and invasion of Ukraine, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz.
The publisher, by way of President and COO Daniel Alegre, announced this to employees via its own internal messaging system before publishing the statement on its own website on March 5. In the statement, Alegre revealed the suspension of sales in Russia and said its priority remains the safety ot its employees, especially those currently affected by what’s going on in Ukraine.
“The company is matching employee donations 2:1 to organizations providing immediate relief in the region,” Alegre writes. “Together, we have raised over $300,000 in this effort. Next week, we plan to add additional charities to choose from for consideration and also will raise the company matching limit from $1000 to $10,000.”
You can read Activision Blizzard’s statement, in full, below:
Sad Cat Studios
Sad Cat Studios, the Belarus-based team behind Replaced, released a statement of support for Ukraine on March 4, making it clear that it is a studio against war.
“We are a Belarusian studio and we want to make it perfectly clear: we are against war,” the statement released on Twitter reads. “We condemn Russian aggression towards Ukraine as well as Belarusian government’s involvement in that aggression. There is absolutely no excuse for [the] war and suffering which is unfolding right now.
Our team has endured the rallies against dictatorship in Belarus in 2020 – one of us have been injured, one arrested. Now one of our own is caught amidst the chaos of war, defending his country, and we are incredibly proud to have such courageous people on our team. That being said, we have ultimately decided to focus on [the] well-being of our team as well as relocating.”
A statement from Sad Cat Studios regarding recent events. pic.twitter.com/hgkAc821JS
Remedy Entertainment, the studio behind Control, released a statement on March 4 in support of Ukraine, revealing it has donated 50,000 euros to the Red Cross to help victims of war.
“As Remedy Entertainment, we all stand united in our support of Ukraine,” Remedy Entertainment writes in its statement. “To help the people of Ukraine and alleviate some of their suffering, we have donated 50 thousand euros to the Red Cross to help the victims of war. We have given direct support to all our Ukrainian employees, and we are prepared to take action to aid their families and loved ones back home.
We are also providing support to our Russian employees, who are appalled by this brutal war. We do not blame those who are not responsible. We do not usually make public statements about world events, but the completely unjust invasion of Ukraine by the Russian regime has shocked and touched us all. We hope that peace will win.”
As Remedy Entertainment, we all stand united in our support of Ukraine. #StandWithUkraine️ pic.twitter.com/XXy96rm8pJ
EA, the publisher behind sports franchises like NHL and Madden NFL as well as games like Battlefield 2042, announced on March 4 that it has stopped sales of its games and content, including virtual currency bundles, in both Russia and Belarus. Here’s EA’s statement, in full:
“We continue to be shocked at the conflict that is unfolding in Ukraine, and join so many voices around the world in calling for peace and an end to the invasion,” EA writes in the blog post. “We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Our primary concern is the ongoing safety of those in the region, particularly colleagues and partners, and we are seeking to understand how we might best help them further beyond our programs that are already in place.
We have made the decision to stop sales of our games and content, including virtual currency bundles, in Russia and Belarus while this conflict continues. As a result, our games and content will no longer be available for purchase in our Russian region storefront on Origin or the EA app, including through in-game stores. We are also working with our platform partners to remove our titles from their stores and to stop the sale of new in-game content in the region.
As this deeply troubling situation evolves, we’re continuously reviewing the steps we can take. In addition to changes to our EA Sports FIFA and NHL games, we are actively evaluating other areas of our games and operations, and will update with any further actions.”
On March 4, Microsoft announced in a blog post that it was suspending sales of its products and services in Russia as a result of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. This presumably includes Xbox-related products like consoles, official accessories, and more, considering Microsoft owns Xbox.
“Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered, and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked, and unlawful invasion by Russia,” Microsoft president and vice chair, Brad Smith, writes in the blog post. “We are announcing today that we will suspend all sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia.
In addition, we are coordinating closely and working in lockstep with the governments of the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, and we are stopping many aspects of our business in Russia in compliance with governmental sanctions decisions. We believe we are most effective in aiding Ukraine when we take concrete steps in coordination with the decisions being made by these governments and we will take additional steps as this situation continues to evolve.
Like so many others, we stand with Ukraine in calling for the restoration of peace, respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty, and the protection of its people.”
This news from Microsoft comes just days after Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov publicly called on Sony and Microsoft to cut off Russia from its respective online gaming services immediately in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sony has not made a public stance or released a statement in regards to this war at the time of this writing.
Bloober Team, the Poland-based studio behind The Medium and other titles, announced on March 3 that it is pulling its digital store pages from Russia and Belarus.
“As the Russian unprovoked invasion of Ukraine continues, killing defenders and civilians alike, we at Bloober Team have decided to stop selling our titles in Russia and Belarus across all platforms,” Bloober Team writes in a press release. “We’ve been working with our partners to put the games down from the stores in these countries – the ban coming into effect first on Steam.
Our hearts are with the Ukrainian people and this is one of several steps we’re currently taking to support them. We understand that our decision might affect many Russian and Belarussian players who are not involved in this invasion, but we strongly believe that every step that can help stop this war is worth taking – this includes showing full solidarity with the Ukrainian people both with words and actions, as well as creating pressure on the Russian and Belarussian public opinion.
We believe a global joint resistance can help make a difference. 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.”
The Pokémon Company
On March 3, The Pokémon Company released a statement in support of Ukraine on Twitter, pledging to donate $200,000 to its partners at GlobalGiving.
“The growing crisis in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, which continues to cause the displacement of families and threaten the safety of children, is heartbreaking.
The Pokémon Company International is making an immediate donation of $200,000 USD to our partners at GlobalGiving to provide humanitarian relief. The nonprofit will efficiently direct the funds to community-led organizations supporting families and children affected by the crisis.”
Our hearts go out to the kids & families of Ukraine 💙💛 pic.twitter.com/vsZuQtYmX6
Perhaps the most forward show of support for Ukraine, Devolver Digital, the publisher behind this year’s Sifu amongst others, kept it simple with the following on March 3:
Sunflower of Peacehttps://t.co/lK9gwRL9GF
United Help Ukrainehttps://t.co/SwA7jsqAU6 pic.twitter.com/03NbacjTSz
As you can see, Devolver Digital also includes links to charities people can donate to in order to help those in Ukraine.
John Romero, the famed co-creator of Doom II, announced on March 3 that he released a new level for Doom II and that 100% of the revenue from it will go to the people of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Red Cross, and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund.
“One Humanity is a new level for the 1994 id Software release Doom II created by John Romero to support the people of Ukraine and the humanitarian efforts of the Red Cross and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund,” Romero’s website reads.” 100% of the proceeds go toward these support initiatives. One Humanity is Romero’s first Doom II level since the release of the original in 1994. The .WAD contains a readme text file as well as the external mod data. Players must have an original copy of Doom II and a modern source port to play one Humanity.”
You can read more about Romero’s charity effort here.
GSC Game World
GSC Game World, the team behind S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, released a new video on March 3, detailing its current struggle in game development as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. GSC is based in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, which has been heavily bombed and targeted as a site for Russian takeover since the invasion began on February 24. In the video, the studio announced that it would be putting Stalker 2 development on the “sidelines” so that it can focus on keeping its employees safe during this conflict.
Here’s what was said, in full, in the video:
“The previous week, we were editing the video about our motion-capture studio. We wanted to show how the cutscenes were created. Took time to watch videos, write scripts, and speak with actors. The previous week was ages ago. On the 24th of February, Russia declared war on Ukraine and sent rockets, tanks, and soldiers to our homeland. Our country is forced to fight for existence again. Seems like this is the price of freedom. This video is our answer to [the] ‘How are you guys?” question. Now we are striving to help our employees and their families to survive. The game development shifted to the sidelines, but we will definitely continue, after the victory. Glory to Ukraine.”
Avalanche Studios Group
Avalanche Studios Group, the team behind the Just Cause series and Contraband, released a statement of support for Ukraine on March 2. The studio revealed that it has donated to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“We strongly condemn the ongoing invasion of Ukraine,” Avalanche writes in the statement. “Avalanche Studios Group is home to 44 different nationalities, including valued colleagues from Ukraine. In the face of this brutal and unprovoked war, we stand with them and their families, our partners and peers, and the entire people of Ukraine.
To help alleviate some of the immense suffering, we are donating to the tireless humanitarian efforts of the UNHCR.”
We #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/eJXdRwfhgC
Unity, a video game engine development company, released a statement of support for Ukraine, including how it’s going to donate money to Ukrainian publishers and others, on March 2.
“Unity stands with the people of Ukraine,” Unity writes on Twitter. “Here’s how we’re helping to support those affected: Internally, our employees are directly supporting four international humanitarian charities focused on helping the people of Ukraine with a triple-matching commitment from the company and our leaders. As of March 1, Unity and our employees have committed over $623,000 to supporting Ukraine.”
Unity also launched two initiatives on the Unity Asset Store, and you can read more about those below:
Unity stands with the people of Ukraine 🇺🇦
Here’s what we’re doing to provide support: https://t.co/EjzkioWEme pic.twitter.com/KxcuPSU6vJ
Raid Shadow Legends developer, Plarium, which is based in Ukraine, announced on March 1 in a new blog post that it has more than 700 employees sheltering in place throughout Ukraine and that its priority is the safety of its team. Plarium also revealed that it has donated $500,000 to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society alongside links and instructional help for people who want to help and get involved. You can read the statements, in full, by paging through the gallery below:
Ubisoft, the publisher and developer behind franchises like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed, released a statement on March 1 to show its support for its teams and the people of Ukraine. Here is the statement in full:
“We are devastated and heartbroken by the tragic events taking place in Ukraine,” Ubisoft writes. “Many Ubisoft team members call Ukraine home, and the thoughts of the entire Ubisoft community are with them, their loved ones, and all those affected by this war. Our top priority is to take care of the safety and wellbeing of our teams and their families. Over the past months, Ubisoft has been closely monitoring the situation, and our primary focus has been the security of our teams.
As events escalated in mid-February, Ubisoft recommended all teams take shelter in a place they considered safe. To support them as they made these difficult decisions, each team member was provided additional funds to help cover exceptional costs and paid their salary in advance to account for any potential disruption to banking systems. Last week, when the unthinkable became a reality, Ubisoft worked to reinforce our support and assistance from our colleagues in Ukraine. We have set up alternative housing in neighboring countries where our colleagues and their families can take shelter if they wish and are able to do so.
To stay closely connected to all our team members, Ubisoft has created dedicated hotlines to provide them with personalized support and aid. We have also put in place an emergency communication system to ensure we are able to keep in touch with our colleagues in all circumstances. We stand by our teams in Ukraine and will continue to adapt and reinforce our support as the situation evolves.
Many people in Ukraine, including children, are in dire need of humanitarian support such as medical supplies, shelter, and food. Today, Ubisoft is donating a total of 200,000 euros to the Ukrainian Red Cross and Save the Children to help meet the urgent needs of the Ukrainian population. To all our Ukrainian community and everyone affected by this war, please take care. We are with you.”
Sweden-based video game media holding company, Embracer Group, has an extensive video game catalog consisting of titles like Saints Row, Dead Island, Kingdoms of Amalur, and more than 250 more. It released a statement on Twitter on February 28 to show its support for Ukraine.
“Millions of people are experiencing unthinkable hardships in Ukraine,” Embracer Group writes on Twitter. “The Embracer Group has decided to donate one-million US dollars for humanitarian aid to support those impacted through esteemed organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, SOS Children’s Villages, and ACT Alliance among others.
In addition, our Group CEO, Lars Wingefors, will match this donation with another one-million US dollar pledge to support our employees and contractors who are directly impacted by this crisis.”
People Can Fly
People Can Fly, the studio behind last year’s Outriders, released a Twitter thread on February 28 showing its support for Ukraine, promising to donate 1 Polish zloty ($.22 USD), up to 1 million, for every Polish zloty donated by others to Polska Akcja Humanitarna, a Poland-based humanitarian organization that delivers aid to countries that need it.
“Hard to find the right words,” People Can Fly writes on Twitter. “We are deeply saddened by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. At PCF, we firmly stand against war and any form of violence. We are doing our best to take care of our Ukrainian team members and their loved ones.”
Now we want to help all our Ukrainian friends. For this we have partnered with PAH (Polish Humanitarian Action). You can contribute from any place in the world under this link: https://t.co/3mY8ewv7Xr
Techland, the studio behind the recently-released Dying Light 2, released a statement of support for Ukraine on February 26. It’s also going to be donating roughly $225,000 to Polska Akcja Humanitarna, a Poland-based humanitarian organization that delivers aid to countries that need it.
“The ongoing war in Ukraine has left us devastated and heartbroken beyond words,” Techland writes on Twitter. “In the past few days, we’ve been focusing on ensuring our employees and their families are safe and receive support. We’ve also joined the efforts of the Polish gaming community in supporting our neighbors from Ukraine by donating 1 million PLN to Polska Akcja Humanitarna – an organization that provides humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict. Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine.”
… in supporting our neighbours from Ukraine by donating 1 mln PLN to @PAH_org – an organization that provides humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict.
Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine. (2/2)
Crytek, the studio behind the popular Crysis franchise with an office based in Ukraine’s Kyiv capital, released a statement on February 25 to show its support for Ukraine amidst the ongoing conflict happening there.
“Kyiv has been home to one of the Crytek studios for the last 15 years,” Crytek writes in the statement. “Our focus in Crytek has always been that people come first, so the safety of our colleagues and their loved ones during this uneasy time has been paramount to us. We have been following the situation closely for the past few weeks and have been in close contact with the studio to do what we can to assist during this difficult time.
We are deeply saddened by the current events, and our thoughts are with our team as well as all Ukrainian citizens.”
CD Projekt Red
Cyberpunk 2077 and Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt Red, which is based in Poland, released a statement of support for Ukraine on February 25. In it, the studio pledged to donate roughly $225,000 to Polska Akcja Humanitarna, a Poland-based humanitarian organization that delivers aid to countries that need it.
“The recent invasion on Ukraine, our friends and neighbors, left us shocked and outraged,” the studio writes in a tweet. “In solidarity with all victims of this act of aggression, the CD Projekt Group has decided to support humanitarian aid efforts by donating 1 million PLN to [Polska Akcja Humanitarna].”
We cannot remain indifferent in the face of such injustice and we ask everybody to join in and help in any way you can. Together we can make a huge difference! (2/2)
Raw Fury, the publishing label behind titles like Sable, posted a statement of support for Ukraine on Twitter on February 24.
“Overnight, millions of Ukrainians have fled their everyday lives stolen away from them because of circumstances entirely out of their control,” Raw Fury writes in the statement “Houses lost, families separated, and the atrocity of war surrounding the neighborhoods they call home. War devastates all it touches, and this is a time when we all need to come together as a community to help.
One of the tenets of Raw Fury is that we treat humans like humans, and when conflicts like this arise, it is more important than ever that we show empathy for each other. Raw Fury stands behind the citizens of Ukraine and we will be donating to the Ukrainian Red Cross to help support the victims of this war. We urge you all to help by donating so that aid can be made readily available for those in need.”
A message from us at Raw Fury on the current events.#StandWithUkraine https://t.co/SSSBXEKFwm pic.twitter.com/VwPlinc6Cr
Vostok Games, the studio behind Survarium, posted a show of support for Ukraine on February 24 in the form of a picture of the Ukrainian flag with the hashtag “#StandWithUkraine.”
Frogwares, the team behind The Sinking City and the Sherlock Holmes game franchise, tweeted on February 24 that it cannot stand by while Russia attacks its homeland, denying Ukraine of its sovereignty.
“We can’t just stand by,” Frogwares writes on Twitter. “Russia attacks our homeland and denies the sovereignty of Ukraine. We are trying to stay safe, but this is war, there are no two ways about it. We call on everyone to force Putin to withdraw from our lands. #StopRussianAggression.”
We’re a peaceful nation, and in all the years since we gained our independence, we’ve never attacked or threatened anyone.
Because of this situation, our work will be impacted and our lives can be destroyed.
Bungie, the developer behind Destiny 2, announced on February 24 that it will donate 100% of the proceeds of the first 48 hours of its Game2Give drive to humanitarian aid efforts in response to ongoing conflict as a show of support to Ukraine.
For those looking for ways to help, you can donate directly to the following organizations:
Direct Relief – https://t.co/LyxMEsYQHP
Voices of Children – https://t.co/DJ7hFyNHpQ
International Rescue Committee – https://t.co/sgMM4o7ecj
11 Bit Studios
11 Bit Studios was one of the first studios to not only outright call Russia out, displaying public support for Ukraine and its efforts to defend itself, but it also started a charity drive on February 24. It put This War of Mine, a staunchly anti-war game developed by the studio, on sale on consoles and Steam, and 100% of the profits made during this sale are going to the Ukrainian Red Cross.
On March 3, 11 Bit Studios announced that it was donating nearly $700,000 to Ukraine. The studio also released this statement alongside its original drive, which details how the Poland-based studio feels about the ongoing conflict:
Game Informer will continue to update this story.
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