Activision Blizzard is suspending new sales “from and in” its games in Russia, game company president Daniel Alegre announced in a publicly shared letter to employees (via Eurogamer† The move will prohibit Russians from any new dealings with the company, including both the sale of its games and in-game purchases.
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, as well as providing resources to workers affected by the war. The Ukraine crisis comes at a sensitive time in Activision Blizzard’s history — the company continues to face criticism after it was charged last year for allegedly fostering a toxic workplace culture.
“We are doing everything we can to assist the workers and their families directly affected by this tragedy,” Alegre said in the letter. “If you or a colleague needs support, don’t hesitate to reach out to your manager or local HR leaders. I would also like to remind you that our Employee Assistance Program is available to those who need emotional support during this difficult time.”
Activision Blizzard joins a growing list of game companies that have stopped doing business in Russia. Microsoft, which announced its plans to buy Activision Blizzard in January, has banned the “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, Microsoft 365 and more.
Meanwhile, EA Games removed Russian teams from its FIFA and NHL games and later stopped all sales to Russia and Belarus. Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red has also taken similar steps to block physical and digital sales to customers in both countries. In particular, Activision Blizzard has not blocked sales to Belarus, Russia’s economic partner. The edge contacted Activision Blizzard with a request for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Epic stops trading with Russia in our games in response to the invasion of Ukraine. We don’t block access for the same reason that other means of communication remain online: the free world must keep all lines of dialogue open.
— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) March 5, 2022
Shortly after announcing Activision Blizzard, Epic Games stated that it will “stop trading with Russia” in its games, noting that it will not ban Russian players from accessing these games. It is unclear whether the Fortnite the developers’ trade ban applies to microtransactions, games, or both.
Earlier this week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Federov . said called up for Xbox and PlayStation to “temporarily block” Russian and Belarusian accounts and suspend their participation in esports events. He asked later a number of developers including Epic Games, Nintendo, Rockstar and Tencent have discontinued their games in Russia.
Update March 5 5:53 PM ET: Updated to add that Epic Games has also banned sales in Russia.