For the games industry, the immediate challenges fall into the following categories:
* evacuating the talent
As of yesterday, men of military age cannot leave Ukraine. Japan, Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania stopped issuing visas to holders of Russian passports, with Belgium likely to join soon.
Russian airlines are prohibited from entering British space, and just now Russia banned all British airlines from landing or transiting over its territory. Belavia has its flights cancelled due to being too close to the war zone, and we’ll see more of that.
If you have talent in the region (UA/RU/BY), your teams are probably already working out the logistics, and will continue to solve this in the coming weeks.
* paying to contractors in the region, collecting money due
Ukraine issued a moratorium on settling obligations in front of Russian parties, and prohibited bank transfers for Russian residents. Ukrainian bank also froze operations in roubles, Russian and Belarusian.
A bunch of Russian banks got sanctioned (representing a bit over 50% of the Russian banking system, by value) and where yesterday there were queues to the ATMs Moscow in Minsk, today there’s more chaos – nothing functions, consumers can’t access their currency accounts.
If you work with studios in the region – if you pay to them as a platform, or contact them as freelancers – you need to be in close contact to coordinate every single payment these days.
Moreover, if you need to send console dev kits, you may be unable to do this under the export restrictions (at least this is the experience in Turkey, for a comparison).
* dealing with censorship and platform outage
Yesterday, Roskomnadzor demanded that every news outlet in Russia take down their reporting on the war and only publish the official propaganda.
We expect that today the actual blocking will start, and may include all of the major social platforms.
Moreover, as we see with the retaliation for the British flight ban, additional restrictions may arrive for platforms / games hardware in Russia in response to EU/US sanctions.
What can you do?
If you’re involved in any projects in the region, I urge you to reach out to other Summit firms and companies, and to share experience.
Some of us have great relationship to specific embassies, or payment providers, or platforms, and will be able to help or share best practices. Perhaps a studio is moving talent to your region, and you can assist? Or perhaps you need assistance?
Just this morning an Ukrainian studio got the help of a Polish law firm and a Polish games publisher to help a family with kids across the border, and we ourselves are in the process of moving several developers from Russia into Lithuania.
Let’s use the synergy of our community to the maximum – it’s time to put all of our connections.