Last month, Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation announced that it would reach out to Sony, Microsoft, and Valve requesting the ban of digital sales of Mundfish's Atomic Heart in the country. Today, we learn that they have followed through with that announcement.
Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov took to Twitter to publish official letters sent to Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith, and Valve CEO Gabe Newell.
The letters, which come after over a year of war in Ukraine following the Russian federation's invasion of the country at the beginning of 2022, acknowledge the economic pressure applied by private companies on the Russian economy, but express "serious concerns" about Atomic Heart.
According to Fedorov, part of the income of the game risks being transferred into the invaders' budget, and its themes, seen as a promotion of communism and its symbols, violate Ukrainian legislation and are a nod to Russian imperialism. On top of that, he reiterates the fact that Mundfish has not distanced itself from Putin's regime and his war.
As a consequence, Fedorov urges the platform holders to ban the sale of digital versions of the game.
Below you can read the letter to Jim Ryan in its entirety and you can find all our letters on Mykhailo Fedorov's Twitter account.
Dear Mr. Ryan,
As you know, 24 February 2023 — the anniversary of the full-fledged war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. Already a year, Ukraine is bravely fighting against world's evil as Russia continues its cruise missile terrorism and committing war crimes on a daily basis.
The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine appreciates the measures that private companies have already applied to strengthen economic pressure on Russia by suspending the operational and commercial activities there. Corporate sanctions are indeed a powerful tool to prevent technology and respectively warfare development in Russia. Though, we have serious concerns regarding the game "Atomic Heart", launched via Sony PlayStation platform on February 21, 2023. So, with this letter I would like to approach you with the following.
According to the information we have, the above-mentioned game, developed by Russian studio Mundfish. As Mundfish has Russian management and offices, there is a potential risk that money raised from the purchases of the game will be transferred to Russia's budget, so it will be used to fund war against Ukraine. Another point I have to highlight is that working with Russian entities is not in line with sanctions policy within free democratic countries. One more dimension of "Atomic Heart" game — its thematic. The Ukrainian Government has serious concerns; as it completely violates the Ukrainian legislation. The game itself promotes the communist regime and Soviet symbols.
I believe Sony Interactive Entertainment doesn't want to be considered as a platform that supports communism, even in such futuristic execution. History of Soviet Russia and its imperialistic infringements towards other independent countries led to murder of hundreds of thousands civil people. Not only now in Ukraine, but also in Moldova and Georgia. Quit a rhetoric question, whether it is worth to promote symbols that covered with blood.
Taking into account the above mentioned, we urge Sony Interactive Entertainment to ban the selling digital versions of this game via Sony PlayStation.
I also would like to emphasize that the game developers have not publicly expressed their position on Putin's regime and the bloody war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine. Now more than ever leaders and businesses around the world should be united to protest the Russian invasion and stop financing war in all possible ways. Informational one as well. Hope to see you on the light side.
Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine,
Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine
It's worth mentioning that parts of the gaming industry already expressed support for Ukraine. Just last week, Microsoft released the majestic Antonov An-225 "Mriya" in Microsoft Flight Simulator (portrayed above) pledging the entirety of the revenue for the add-on's sale to Antonov Corporation, which will use it to rebuild the real aircraft. The Mriya was destroyed by Russian forces at Antonov's own airport in Hostomel, Kyiv Oblast, during the initial phase of the invasion, before Ukraine's army managed to liberate the region by inflicting the first defeat of the war on the invaders.
We reached out to Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation for comment on whether they heard or will hear back from the platform holders. We'll keep you informed if they let us know anything relevant on the issue.