About a week ago some people from Ukraine discovered that they’re no longer able to view MK11 page in stores, or do they have it in their pre-orders. Support services of different stores seemed kind of confused on why that happened as well, with PS Store support eventually saying that WB Games flagged the game as unavailable in the country.
So, I’ve tried to know on as many doors as I could and eventually got the same answer from WB Games support as other people.
This is the answer everyone got, word for word. And they don’t answer any further questions, such as what do they mean by “local laws”.
This can’t really have anything to do with violence. All other violent games are available, including all other MK games. Our government never really cared about video games. We don’t even have a real age rating board.
So, without any help from WB Games or Netherrealsm or anyone else, people made the only other connection they could – to a relatively recent (2018) law that bans propaganda and symbology of communist regime together with the Nazi propaganda and symbols. And MK11 has that one Skarlet Kold War skin where she looks like what Hollywood imagines Soviet commissars looked.
If you’re curious, why would they pursue commies the same way as Nazis – communist regime has done some things in our country. Check out Holodomor if you’re curious.
Now, this might seem a bit too much for a government, to ban a game for a skin like that, and you would be right – which is why nobody did that. This was a decision by WB Games, not by any government body here. Our government is very much occupied with things like war and a very messy presidential election. I can’t find any proof of this being anything more than a preemptive measure by WB Games.
But anyway, this seems like an issue with your country laws, why do you blame Warner Bros for anything? Well, there are 3 reasons for that.
1) They don’t care about us
I didn’t exaggerate in the into – we just found out that we’re screwed. There was no official update, no notification from Warner Bros. or Netherrealm, even to the people that pre-ordered the game. And remember - this wasn’t done by the local government, so there wasn’t an official announcement by them either. We had to – and still do – piece together what happened ourselves.
I seriously doubt anyone outside of Ukraine even knows about this situation. Go and browse WB Games’ twitter, Netherrealm’s or Ed Boon’s – there is not a single mention of de-listing the game in an entire country. And unlike Australia or Japan, where the game has problems for the more clear reason of violent content, there are no news or blog posts about this.
Or take one more step and tell us what exactly do they mean by “local laws”. Why would anyone have to guess what’s the problem? Maybe if we knew what it is, we could contact our government to verify whether it’s an issue or not and if it is – push for it to be changed to not affect video games.
Instead, we sit in darkness and radio silence, just guessing why aren’t we allowed to play the new game.
2) The Skin Issue Can Be Easily Resolved
I’m not a programmer, I’m actually a lawyer. But I can’t imagine that making a single skin unavailable for a single country can be that hard. It shouldn’t take too much to just delist it from store pages here and if you connect with a player that has it – just use Skarlet’s standard model on the side of Ukrainian player. If you need time to do that – delay the launch. Don’t just ax it.
That would take a bit extra work, sure. But there’s also extra money in it. And the industry has already done region-specific censorship with other games. Like swastikas in Germany or skeletons in China.
But, alas, Ukraine is not China. Ukraine is 46th for gaming revenue. Maybe they’ve calculated how much money it would take to make the change versus how much they are likely to make and decided it’s not worth it. Anyway, your worth as players in this matter is literally just your monetary worth. Nothing more.
3) The Skin Issue is a Non-Issue
This goes along with what I’ve said earlier – no government body cared about a video game in this country in the whole history of the country. The law forbids propaganda of Communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes – basically Third Reich and USSR. But is the depiction of a blood ninja in a video game wearing a cap with a red star on it, propaganda of the regime? Not really.
Right now, you can freely buy in Ukraine the new Wolfenstein games, filled with Nazi imagery. Or Hears of Iron 4 where you can play as Stalin. Or Red Alert 3 with this cover:
And there are other games, including online games with skins. Any example you can think up, you can probably buy here because no video game was affected by this. Ever. If we don’t go into conspiracy theories, all I can see in this is a corporation calculating their “potential risks” and deciding to off an entire country from release to avoid even a spec of risk.
It might seem like I’m overthinking and speculating to weave a narrative that paints Warner Bros. as the villains here. But I kind of have to – they give us no information about this, so we make do with what we have. All we know is that WB Games canceled the release country-wise without really explaining why.
I’m not really into that, but please, share this information with others, so that the world knows even a little bit about WB Games and how they can decide to screw you over without even telling you what or why.