When we think about how politics tends to affect video games, it tends to be along the lines of ratings, censorship, and bans. The effects of economic sanctions don’t often come to mind. After Russia annexed and took control of the Ukranian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 – which the United Nations General Assembly doesn’t recognise – the USA put many sanctions on the area. In short, a lot of US businesses pulled out. This included game companies, impacting everything from League of Legends to Steam for folks in Crimea.
A fascinating article on Kotaku UK goes over the situation and how it changes games for folks. It’s a good read.
Look, here’s a quote from one person (though I’m not sure where they get their numbers from):
“Since January, Valve ceased operations of Steam in Crimea. There are 2.3 million people in Crimea and approximately 20-30,000 of them are using Steam. Now we can’t buy any more games or use our accounts for selling things that we’ve earned in-game. I have my money left there which I can’t use! But we can still play the games which we had bought before; some of my friends have bought virtual IP addresses to get around the sanctions; they can use all internet services easily, including playing games.”
Some folks pay for a proxy server, letting them appear to online services like they’re in another country, but it’s a messy situation and technically against the terms of service for many online things, so the threat of a ban does hang over them. Or they can buy from key resellers, which aren’t without problems. Or simply pirate games.
Anyway, yes, do go read. There’s plenty more, including how it affects games business. I certainly hadn’t thought about this before. No, video games are not the biggest issue in annexed Crimea but oh gosh I’m trying to not create a political mess as I write this I’m going now bye.