Atomic Heart will be released in February. It’s a Russian game backed by ex-Gazprom
Recently, PC Gamer released a list of the most-awaited games coming out this year. Atomic Heart topped the collection, being described as “one of the most awaited gaming curiosities over the years.”
The game title indeed arouses some curiosity, which is, however, not about if it will be “soviet-punk Bioshock” as is shown in teasers. What is really interesting about the game is that its developers and investors are Russians with close ties to sanctioned Gazprom, the state-owned multinational energy corporation. This is the key point due to the ongoing genocidal war in Ukraine launched by Russia.
AIN.Capital publishes the details about the project.
Make the Soviet Union great again, or what is wrong with the game: m?
- Atomic Heart is positioned by the developers as Bioshoсk in the USSR. It describes the events of the alternative history of the 50s, where the Soviet Union emerged from the Second World War scientifically and technologically advanced, reaching the peak of development with cold nuclear fusion and intelligent robots.
- The protagonist of the game is a KGB major. The game seems to show the Russian military and KGB in a neutral or even favorable light.
- The party in honor of the game was held in this design.
- Of course, this is not the first game that exploits the curiosity of the Western audience for Soviet style and (pseudo) history. In the Russian Federation, this game is released only in the VK Play store, but in the world, it will be sold in the Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam stores.
Who is behind Atomic Heart, and what it has to do with the pro-Kremlin institutions?
- The game is developed by Mundfish studio. On the website of the studio, there is currently no mention of the fact that it is a Russian game developer. The story of the company begins with its launch in 2017 by a team of like-minded people in Cyprus.
- At the same time, the studio was mentioned as a Russian one, with an office in Moscow, in Russian gaming and IT medias a few years ago. At DTF 2019, there was even a report from the Moscow office of the studio, where, according to the publication, about 30 people worked at that time.
- On LinkedIn, you can find the profiles of the founders of the studio: Artem Galeev, Robert Bagratuni, Oleg Horodishenin, they are from the Russian Federation. Bagratuni is a former top manager of Mail.ru.
- The investors of the studio are Chinese Tencent and Russian GEM Capital and Gaijin Entertainment. GEM Capital is a Russian fund founded by Anatoly Pali, who previously worked at Gazprom’s subsidiary, Gazenergoset. The studio raised investments from them in 2021.
- Moreover, some internet enthusiasts found Paliy’s connection to other Russian state institutions, like RusAl of Oleg Deripaska and sanctioned “systemically important” bank VTB.
- Mundfish studio never commented on the war in Ukraine and didn’t condemn Russia either. In a recent tweet, developers stated that they “do not comment on politics”.
- As TheGamer’s Jason Wojnar noted, Mundfish is going as far as blocking those who call on the company to comment on the matter. This has now led to Mundfish being accused of knowingly spreading Russian propaganda, another claim it has not addressed in this statement.
Possibly one may say that this is just a game, but taking into account the war crimes and terror of Russians and their authorities, as well as the history of Soviet crimes against Ukrainians, such projects should be boycotted by both digital game stores and the global gaming community.
The lack of transparency from the developers, shady investors, and a strong flair of Soviet nostalgia should be alarming for gamers. The popularity of Atomic Heart on the global market, along with media support, turn the game into a dangerous tool of Russian propaganda.
If Atomic Heart is being developed with money that originated from sanctioned Russian businesses and banks “systemically important” to the Russian government, profits from the game could be directed to help the Russian government in its invasion of Ukraine.
That’s why you should, at least, think twice before buying Atomic Heart. But the best that can be done is to reject purchasing the game and call on Microsoft and Valve to stop selling it.