Ukrainian video game studios respond to Russian attacks, share how to help

STALKER 2Source: GSC Game WorldSTALKER 2 developers GSC Game World are based in the Ukraine.

Russia launched an attack on Ukraine early Thursday in a move that’s already had a huge impact the world over, from sanctions to bombardments of population centers. Video games, like many industries, has a presence in Ukraine, and studios are calling for support.

GSC Game World, the studio behind the STALKER series and the upcoming entry, STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl, put out a statement on Twitter to ask for people to “help those in need.”

“Our country woke up with the sounds of explosions and weapons fire, but is ready to defend its freedom and independence … We thus address all of our colleagues in the gaming industry, players, bloggers or anyone who sees this post in their newsfeed : Share this, do not stand aside,” the post said.

There are other video game studios based in the country as well. 4A Games, which is behind the Metro franchise, has offices in Ukraine and Malta and was founded in the capital, Kyiv, in 2005. In an interview with Polygon last week, studio owner Andrew Prokhorov (speaking for himself and not for the company) said that he believes everything “will be fine.”

“Our army is ready, [our] nation is ready, and if [a] sick old man [does decide] to invade they will be kicked out,” he said. “I hope for peace [to end] the situation,” he added, “but if something bad happens victory will be on the side of good guys.”

In a follow-up statement to Fast Company, Saber Interactive, which acquired 4A in 2020, said it’s continuing to monitor the situation, but doesn’t think the attacks will impact development due to a lot of developers working remotely.

“We are prepared to support our employees however we can and remain fully committed to the physical and emotional well-being of all of our teammates, and are in touch daily with studio leadership as the situation develops,” it said.

Frogwares, the developer behind the Sherlock Holmes games and The Sinking City, is based in Kyiv and condemned Russia’s advancement.

“We can’t just stand by. Russia attacks our homeland and denies the sovereignty of Ukraine. We are trying to stay safe, but this is war, there are no two ways about it,” a statement on Twitter read. “We call on everyone to force Putin to withdraw from our lands.”

Gameloft, a huge mobile game publisher, has two studios in Ukraine. It tweeted a statement of solidarity with its Ukrainian employees, adding that it’s also been monitoring the situation.

Vostok Games, which is based in Kyiv and developed Fear the Wolves and Survarium, went the simple route, tweeting out a photo of the Ukrainian flag with the hashtag #StandWithUkraine. Business Development Director Oleg Yavorsky told Polygon that there is already a plan in place to relocate team members if necessary.

Ubisoft also has a studio in Kyiv, which it describes as one of its biggest, that provides quality control and supportive development on company-wide projects. Ubisoft told Fast Company that it’s monitoring the situation. Multiple Ubisoft employees have also tweeted their support for their colleagues in Ukraine.

It’s worth noting that there are dozens of video game studios in Ukraine, more than we can talk about here. Other huge studios with a Ukrainian presence include Playrix, World of Tanks developer Wargaming, Plarium, and many others. While most of the companies are headquartered elsewhere, they employ thousands of video game professionals. According to a talk by video games HR expert Alina Mudraya on the state of the Ukrainian video game industry, there are over 400 companies with over 30,000 employees.

Narrative designer James B. Jones tweeted out the graphic below from a 2018 report about Ukrainian video game development that will give you a better idea. According to the report put together by ACHIEVERS HUB and UNIT.City Innovation Park, over 70 Ukrainian companies were surveyed and were found to be representative of almost every area in the nation. They also span multiple sizes and develop for almost every platform, including mobile, PC, and console.

How can you help?

GSC Game World suggests donating directly to the Ukraine armed forces through a special bank account set up by the National Bank of Ukraine following the declaration of martial law in the country. The number is UA843000010000000047330992708, and accepts multiple international currencies, including US dollars, euros, and pounds.

Verified Ukrainians put together a list of resources that includes donating money for military and medical supplies to organizations like Come Back Alive and Razom for Ukraine. It also suggests supporting the English-language publication The Kyiv Independent.

Meanwhile, other Eastern European studios are doing their part. 11 bit studios, which is based in nearby Poland, posted a statement on Twitter announcing all profits over the next several days from This War of Mine, a survival war game that focuses on the civilian point of view, will be put into a special fund to be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross.

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