In response to the wildly unjustified invasion of Ukraine, Russia has faced a wide array of international backlash and condemnation. As Russia continues to propagandize and kill Ukrainians, the world has responded. There’s a major amount of tension over these issues, and it’s not going away anytime soon. The country’s central bank has seen a massive hit to its assets, leading to fears over exhausting foreign currency reserves. Various international banks have also divested from Russian companies, further amplifying economic pressure. These trends have crashed the value of the Ruble more than 40% in just days, as consumers engage in runs on banks trying to convert their money to US dollars and other foreign currencies.
And amid all of this, the gaming industry has responded in its own way. Statements of solidarity have flooded in for Ukrainian developments studios and publishers. 4A Games and Frogwares have both seen a rush of consumers and fans offering well wishes and solidarity to the Ukrainian people at large. Many other companies are seeing similar shows of support. And now, EA Sports has jumped on to pile on Russia with their own brand of criticism.
Electronic Arts has announced that it’s in the process of removing both Russian national teams and the country’s professional clubs from some of its biggest sports games. That will include NHL 22, FIFA 22, FIFA Online, and FIFA Mobile; although it’s not clear when this process will occur, as EA says it will happen in “the coming weeks.” EA says that the decision was made “in line with our partners at FIFA and UEFA,” as well as the IIHF. These bodies manage the international leagues for football and hockey, and both have expelled Russian teams from future leagues.
We can bet that more sports titles may follow suit in removing Russian teams from their games, at least while the war is going on. It could be indefinite though, depending on how this whole mess shakes out.
Let’s be clear, EA doesn’t have the best reputation among gamers. Their treatment of monetization has become a particular sore spot and source of criticism. FiFA games in particular have been laden with criticism over gambling mechanics for some time. Some could easily argue that EA Sports pushing Russian teams out of their games feels a bit hollow. The company appears to be jumping on the bandwagon to gain easy PR points, and that’s certainly true, but it’s kind of a catch-22. It EA Sports decided to leave Russian teams in the game during this time, that could just as easily backfire on them. There are no real winners in war, and this is just another example of how war and national divisions can cause strife in unexpected ways.