The Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov published on Twitter digital copies of the ministry’s official requests to Valve, Sony and Microsoft with a call to ban the sale of the russian game Atomic Heart. It’s a bad idea, and here’s why.

“Official requests to ban selling Atomic Heart game. I do believe neither of these businesses support bloody regime, murders or romanticizing communism. Brand new level of Russian digital propaganda – using gaming industry,” wrote Mykhailo Fedorov.

In fact, the Ukrainian gaming community – journalists, bloggers, YouTubers, and ordinary players – have been trying to prove to the English-speaking gaming community, primarily to publishers and mass media, that Atomic Heart is a tool of russian propaganda, glorifying the bloody soviet regime, for more than two months. What can I say, the main characters here are all KGB agents.

To be honest, I also had a hand in this, trying to write letters to foreign journalists and publishers, proving that reviewing and promoting russian games while the russians are killing Ukrainians every day and perpetrating genocide is the same as reviewing and promoting games about gas chambers and concentration camps during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, nothing works, they don’t understand why russians are toxic.

On the contrary, the loud campaign conducted by Ukrainian bloggers only made additional PR for Atomic Heart. Because there is almost no bad publicity for media products. Each attempt by the Ukrainians to cancel the game only added points to the phrase “Atomic Heart”. Each mention of the game generated additional interest. Why are Ukrainians against it, maybe it’s interesting? Each excuse from the developers created another informational excuse. It’s like a chemical reaction in which the Ukrainians deliberately put a catalyst. This blog will also increase the recall of the Russian game. Unfortunately. That’s why I didn’t want to write anything about Atomic Heart, at least until the game was released.

This is exactly how the letter from the Ministry of Digital Transformation will work. Sony, Microsoft, and Valve will not stop sales. Propaganda is a very ephemeral thing, you cannot demonstrate it in court. And canceling sales without a good reason will lead to a lawsuit from the developers. That is, in addition to lost profits, and losses on advertising and promotion, Sony, Microsoft and Valve will also receive a potential lawsuit. Why should they? As long as the authors of the game do not kill kittens live or insult sexual minorities, no one will do anything.

However, all Western media will definitely write about this letter and another attempt to ban the game, and this… that’s right, will lead to additional sales.

The only thing that Sony, Microsoft, and Valve can potentially do (pay attention that the Epic Games Store has no such russian crap) is to ban the sale of Atomic Heart in Ukraine. But, unfortunately, additional sales around the world after the resonance in the media easily compensate for the drop in sales in Ukraine.

And Atomic Heart sold very well anyway. It has already become the best start in Xbox Game Pass in 2023. It’s not the end yet, but… Steam alone has different estimates ranging from 250 to 800 thousand copies of the game. Steam rating pumped by the russians is 86/100, but Metacritic isn’t that bad either – 76/100 for the PC version. And PR help from Ukrainians is playing its part in it.

How to deal with russian propaganda crap in this case? By the way, the minister is wrong, the use of the game industry is not a new level of Russian digital propaganda. They have always done this since the mid-1990s. This is rather the norm for the russian game industry – to be a mouthpiece of communism and ruscism.

So how to fight? Only with own product. Our games about this war, which will be able to show the world the whole essence of russian culture. At one time, even the authors of Call of Duty were able to do this. So we really hope that the developers of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Metro 4 and other Ukrainian games will find a way to respond to the russians and, most importantly, will find the courage to do so.

On the other hand, there is one very unpleasant moment. Russians know how to be proud even of their baseness, vileness, and abomination. The Ukrainian You Are Empty and Metro series games actually criticized and demonstrated all the “charms” of the soviet-russian system, but this did not prevent the russians from being proud of these games and considering them “their own”.

So, I don’t really have a recipe for how to deal with russian propaganda in games. But it should definitely not be done as Ukrainian bloggers, mass media and the Ministry of Digital Transformation have done.

P.S. In fact, it was necessary to ban the sale of Atomic Heart in Ukraine in the fall of 2022, but to do it quietly so as not to attract too much attention.