It’s almost been a year since Russia invaded Ukraine, with countless Ukrainians having lost their lives and being displaced from their homes as a result. With the war still ongoing, the Ukrainian government recently reached out to companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Valve to request limited distribution of the game Atomic Heart.
The reason for this being that Atomic Heart has Russian themes and ties, having recently become a subject of controversy due to claims that the Russian government stands to benefit from the game financially as a result of its majority ownership of investors in the game, as reported by outlets like VGC.
Furthermore, as noted by PCGamesN, Atomic Heart developer Mundfish has come under scrutiny due to its investors involving the likes of GEM Capital, whose founder has ties to Gazprom and VTB Bank, with both being majority-owned by the Russian state. It also partnered with VK (formerly Mail.RU) on the Russian release of the game, with VK being majority-owned by the Russian state via the aforementioned Gazprom.
According to a statement from Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, Alex Bornyakov, Atomic Heart not only “has Russian roots” but also “romanticizes communist ideology and the Soviet Union.” Because of this, The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine sent out an official letter to Microsoft, Sony, and Valve asking for a ban on sales of digital versions of the game in Ukraine.
It’s also urging companies to limit the distribution of the game in other countries due to things like the potential use of money raised from game sales being used to help further fund Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Regarding the situation with the release of the game Atomic Heart, which has Russian roots and romanticizes communist ideology and the Soviet Union, The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine will send an official letter to Sony, Microsoft, and Valve requesting a ban on selling digital versions of this game in Ukraine,” said Bornyakov as quoted by Ukrainian website Dev.au (translated to English by PCGamesN).
“We also urge limiting the distribution of this game in other countries due to its toxicity, potential data collection of users, and the potential use of money raised from game purchases to conduct a war against Ukraine.”
Bornyakov’s statement goes on to note that, “According to media reports, the game’s development was funded by Russian enterprises. Therefore, we call for all users worldwide to avoid this game. We also want to emphasize that the game developers have not publicly condemned the Putin regime and the bloody war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine.”
In the coming weeks, it’ll be interesting to see whether Sony, Microsoft, or Valve heeds Ukraine’s request to limit the distribution of Atomic Heart given the game’s background. Or, at the very least, follows through with banning digital sales of the game in Ukraine itself.
For more on Atomic Heart, check out some of our previous coverage including Mick Gordon donating his Atomic Heart soundtrack fee to aid Ukraine, and our review of Atomic Heart where we note the game's pro-Russian themes may make some players uncomfortable.