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Games Industry Calls for Support for Ukraine



A number of Ukrainian game development studios, as well as members of the wider games industry have spoken up following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia late last night.

Russia’s attack began with Russian President Vladimir Putin announcing he would carry out “a special military operation” in Ukraine. Following his statement, attacks began in ten regions of Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, and have since expanded across the country. Ukraine’s ambassador has claimed that at least 40 troops have now been killed along with “dozens” of civilians, and Ukraine has reportedly lost its control of the Chernobyl nuclear site.

In response, Ukrainian developers including Frogwares (The Sinking City, Sherlock Holmes), Tallboys (Pandemic Express, Where the Clouds End), Vostok Games (working on an unannounced AAA shooter), and GSC Game World (Stalker and Stalker 2) have issued statements via their official Twitter accounts calling for Ukraine’s continued independence and an end to the attack on their country. Both GSC Game World and Ukrainian esports organization Natus Vincere (NAVI) have additionally called for aid to the Ukrainian army.

Sengi Games, developer of The Serpent Rogue, also commented on the conflict and its own situation within it:

Other Ukrainian studios haven’t issued statements at this time, but are nonetheless taking action to ensure the safety of their teams. IGN has spoken via email with Beatshapers CEO Alexey Menishikov, who confirmed that the Kiev-based studio was currently being evacuated to west Ukraine and Poland. We have also reached out to Metro developer 4A, and Prime World: Defenders co-development studio Red Beat, but have not yet heard back.

IGN has also reached out to Ubisoft for any update on its Ukraine-based studios and received the following statement:

“The safety and wellbeing of our team members is always our primary concern. We are monitoring the situation closely and have already implemented several measures to help keep our teams in Ukraine safe. We also are providing assistance and aid to all team members. We don’t have more details to share at this time but will continue to monitor and adjust to the situation as it evolves.”

Riot Games’ Valorant Champions Tour has opted to postpone its games this week given the number of players, casters, staff, and fans impacted by the invasion:

The New York Video Game Critics Circle published a note this morning from Elena Lobova, the Kiev-based founder of games industry community platform GDBay who was a part of the opening video of the recent New York Game Awards.

“I woke up at 5 AM today, without any particular reason, just had a bad dream…” Lobova wrote. “I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. The kitchen window was open. Around 5:05 AM, I’ve heard several explosions that immediately brought me back to 2014 in Lugansk. I knew what it was.

“There were several explosions after that, still shooting time to time. I’m in a place that seemed like the safest option out of what I had available, together with my close people.

“We keep working, doing our best to stay safe and hope for the best.”

Serenity Forge, publisher of Death’s Gambit: Afterlife, shared the following statement from co-founder Zhenghua ‘Z’ Yang regarding the company’s efforts to support a Ukraine-based development partner:

“Serenity Forge is working with a talented Ukraine-based developer who was assisting us and White Rabbit with the Death’s Gambit’s Xbox version, but unfortunately he began to flee for his safety after last night’s invasion began,” Z said. “We had talks with him to try to relocate him to our headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, but unfortunately ran out of time as the U.S. offices and services shuttered quickly over the past few days. As of last speaking with him yesterday I believe he’s safe, but that might not be true anymore as he’s no longer available for communications. We will resume development on the Xbox version of Death’s Gambit when possible but currently our main concern is doing everything we can to keep our friends and colleagues safe.”

Companies outside of Ukraine are also offering support. 11 Bit Studios, the Polish creator of This War of Mine, issued a statement against the war, while also announcing it would donate all profits from This War of Mine and all its DLCs on all platforms and stores to the Ukrainian Red Cross to support victims.

Storefront GOG followed up with an announcement that it will donate all profits from its own shares of This War of Mine sales to the Ukrainian Red Cross as well.

Publisher Raw Fury has also issued a statement in support of Ukraine, alongside a call to action to donate to the Ukrainian Red Cross:

And Draw Distance, the Polish developer of Serial Cleaner and Vampire: the Masquerade – Coteries of New York, publicly expressed support for Ukraine too.

“Ukrainians are our neighbors, colleagues, and employees. Their safety, and the safety of their families is of great importance to us. We wholeheartedly condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine.”

Other members of the games industry have also spoken up as individuals separate from corporate statements. Bungie CEO Pete Parsons posted the Ukrainian flag on his personal Twitter this morning. Remedy lead gameplay designer Sergey Mohov has spoken out against the invasion and shared a number of resources for Ukrainian aid, as has SteamSpy creator and Epic Games director of publishing strategy Sergiy Galyonkin.

And finally, Necrosoft Games director Brandon Sheffield is in the process of putting together an itch.io bundle to simultaneously support those impacted in Ukraine as well as transgender youth in Texas following a move by the state’s governor to classify medical treatments for trans adolescents as “child abuse.” The bundle is still in the works, with Sheffield suggesting proceeds would be split 50/50 between the two causes.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine comes after months of escalation of Russian military activity on the border between the two. The tensions between Ukraine and Russia go all the way back to Ukraine’s formal break with Russia and vote for independence in 1991, the 2014 Maidan Revolution that saw the impeachment of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president after his refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union, and Russia’s subsequent illegal annexation of Crimea.

A number of humanitarian aid organizations are currently accepting donations and support for their efforts to help Ukrainians impacted by the war. They include:

  • Save the Children: On the ground right now providing humanitarian aid to children.
  • UNICEF: Providing emergency supplies and safe water to communities, as well as care for children on the ground and who have been separated from families.
  • Project HOPE: Sending medical supplies and providing health care for refugees.

Update 2/24/2022 4:11 pm PT: Bungie has announced that it will donate 100% of the proceeds of the first 48 hours of its Game2Give drive to humanitarian aid efforts in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

In a follow-up tweet, Bungie listed several humanitarian aid organizations for those looking to help.

Ultimate Chicken Horse studio Clever Endeavor has also joined those speaking out in support of Ukraine, as has The Long Dark creator Raphael van Lierop. And the Ukrainian solo developer of city-building game Ostriv tweeted about waking up “to the sounds of Russian shelling.”

Indie publisher TinyBuild, which has a number of team members and partners in the region, has tweeted about its efforts to keep its people based in Ukraine safe both prior to the attack and now:

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.



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