Activision Blizzard and Epic join the list of publishers halting sales in Russia

Activision booth at E3 2017
(Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Activision Blizzard president and COO Daniel Alegre has announced the company "will be suspending new sales of and in our games in Russia while this conflict continues." In a message addressed to his team, Alegre wrote, "The company is matching employee donations 2:1 to organizations providing immediate relief in the region. 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 $1,000 to $10,000."

He also singled out "the tremendous contributions from our colleagues in Poland, where people have volunteered their time to assist Ukrainian refugees and others in need." Per the UN Refugee Agency, Poland has accepted more than 280,000 refugees from Ukraine.

Epic Games has also announced, via the Epic Games Newsroom on Twitter, that it is "stopping commerce with Russia in our games in response to its invasion of Ukraine." It goes on to confirm that, though sales will end, Russians will still be able to play its games. "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 and Activision Blizzard join companies including Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and CD Projekt in halting sales to Russia. Russia is a significant world market for videogames, number eight globally with an estimated revenue of $US2.7 billion in 2021 according to Statista, which also estimates that 53% of Russians regularly play games on PC

Ukraine's vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov has been actively campaigning for tech industry sanctions, writing an open letter addressed "To all game development companies and esports platforms" urging they sanction Russia, saying, "in 2022, modern technology is perhaps the best answer to the tanks, multiple rocket launchers (hrad) and missiles."

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Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.