Gamers in Crimea are no longer able to access Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, and other games that require a connection to Battle.net. Blizzard has suspended access to the service in the region, in order to comply with US sanctions.
Battle.net users in the area received a notification of the service cut earlier this week, according to Russian gaming site Geektimes.ru (via The Moscow Times). "You are receiving this email because, in accordance with current trade regulations relating to the region of Crimea, we are legally required to suspend access to your Battle.net account. Any recurring subscription payment will be cancelled," it states. "We are sincerely sorry that you’re being impacted in this way; if the situation changes, we will happily do our best to restore access to your account."
The US has imposed numerous sanctions as a result of the ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine, but the Battle.net blockage would appear to arise from Executive Order 13685, "Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions With Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine," signed on December 19, 2014. Among its many prohibitions is "the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any goods, services, or technology to the Crimea region of Ukraine." That, naturally, would include services like Battle.net.
It's an unfortunate mess for gamers in the Crimean region, and given the apparent intractability of the situation, one that could drag on for a long time to come.
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.