Crimean gamers are no longer able to access their battle.net accounts, preventing them from playing Hearthstone, Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 and Heroes of the Storm‘s beta.
Users received a notice from Blizzard earlier this week, which informed them of the change. “You are receiving this email because, in accordance with current trade regulations relating to the region of Crimea, we are legally required to suspend access to youraccount,” the email read. “Any recurring subscription payment will be cancelled. We are sincerely sorry that you’re being impacted in this way; if the situation changes, we will happily do our best to restore access to your account.”
The US began putting sanctions in place against Ukraine in 2014 following Russia’s illegal annexation and the ongoing conflict in the region.
Russia’s actions “undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets,” the US Department of Defense said at the time.
One of the sanctions, signed December 19th 2014, is Executive Order 13685: Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions With Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine, which prohibits the provision of goods or services, including technology, to Crimea. Basically, Blizzard is no longer allowed to conduct any transactions in the region until Russia decides to pack up leave Ukraine, or the sanctions are lifted. Unfortunately, considering we spent 44 years in a Cold War with Russia over who had more missiles, and given that Putin has so far shown no sign of relenting despite facing a free-falling economy as a consequence of his decisions, that might take a while.
A few months ago we featured an interview on our site with Anton Paramanov, an indie developer who is heading up a small team working on their debut title, SKIES. In his post, Game development in Ukraine – fun, or challenge?, Anton spoke about his experience trying to work as a game developer during the incredibly tense times of the Crimean annexation, mentioning things like being told where he was allowed to live, having his citizenship forcefully revoked, and the company’s bank accounts being frozen. But he ended his short posts with some inspiring and motivational words for others who might find themselves in the same position: “Never give up – even in the face of the apocalypse.”
We may not see an end to the turmoil in the region soon, so we can only hope that Crimea is full of people like Paramanov, who are ready to face the situation with bravery and determination until a solution can be found.