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Ukraine wants PlayStation and Xbox to ban Russian players

The Vice Prime Minister also wants to bar Russians from eSports.
Living room with Microsoft Xbox Series X (L) and Sony PlayStation 5 home video game consoles alongside a television and soundbar, taken on November 3, 2020. (Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|March 2, 2022 10:53 AM

The Ukranian government wants gaming giants to join a tech industry crackdown on Russia following its Ukraine invasion. As Polygon observed, Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov has called on Microsoft, Sony and other gaming companies to "temporarily block" all Russian and Belarusian player accounts. He also asked eSports organizers to halt participation from Russian and Belarussian competitors, and to cancel any events planned for either country.

These moves would motivate Russians to resist the "disgraceful military aggression" in Ukraine, Fedorov argued. He believed technology could be the "best answer" to Russia's military hardware.

We've asked Microsoft and Sony for comment. Some game developers have already shown support for Ukraine. Cyberpunk 2077 creator CD Projekt Red, for instance, donated the equivalent of $232,000 to humanitarian efforts in the country.

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It's not clear if Microsoft or Sony will take action. Russia isn't the largest market for either company (Sony's PS4 has mostly thrived in Europe and North America), but banning the country even briefly would still represent a significant move — that's many players who'd be kicked offline. Microsoft has already banned Russian state media, though, and they'd be joining companies like Apple that have halted at least some business. There may be pressure on the PlayStation and Xbox teams to act, even if they don't go as far as Ukraine might like.

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