World of Tanks (opens in new tab) studio Wargaming has fired creative director Sergey Burkatovskiy over his public support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Burkatovskiy said in a now-deleted Facebook post following Russia's attack that he supports "the operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the DPR [Donetsk People's Republic] and the LPR [Luhansk People's Republic]." Wargaming, a Belarusian company that employs hundreds of developers in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, quickly disavowed the statement, telling Russian gaming site Cyber.Sports.ru (opens in new tab) that the statement is "his personal opinion, which categorically does not coincide with the position of the company." The studio added that it is now "focused on helping our 550+ Kyiv colleagues and their families."
The situation escalated a day later, when Burkatovskiy posted another Facebook (opens in new tab) message saying he "broke up with the VG." (Some sites translated "VG" to "WG," indicating Wargaming.) Wargaming later confirmed his departure in a statement emailed to PC Gamer.
“Sergey Burkatovskiy expressed his personal opinion on social media which categorically does not reflect the position of the company," a Wargaming representative said. "He has been let go and is no longer at the company."
Wargaming also clarified a change in online advertising policy for World of Tanks that was recently revealed in a not-entirely-clear statement (opens in new tab) sent to affiliates. When the invasion began, all Wargaming advertising was halted globally; the studio also decided to redesign its advertising assets to remove images of advancing tanks and other military vehicles. It recently resumed advertising with the new assets but is maintaining the promotional pause in Ukraine, "as we believe it is inappropriate and insensitive to advertise our games while it is the center of this conflict."
As the battle for control of the capital continues, Wargaming's Kyiv studio made a 30 million hryvnia ($1 million) donation to the Ukrainian Red Cross (opens in new tab).
"At Wargaming, the safety and security of our employees is the top priority. Currently, all available company resources are helping and supporting our 550+ colleagues: providing them with alternate housing, early salary payments, additional funds to aid travel and relocation," the Wargaming rep said.
"We are helping our employees’ families to travel to neighboring countries and organizing accommodation for them. And lastly, today Wargaming Kyiv are donating $1 million to the Ukrainian Red Cross. These funds will be used to support Ukrainian hospitals and doctors, those citizens who have been displaced and other vital activities of the humanitarian organization as is needed."
Wargaming said it will offer further support for humanitarian relief efforts "if the situation requires.”