Polish 11 Bit Studios to publish INDIKA, a Russian-made game. Ukrainian gamers are outraged

On October 18, Polish game developer and publisher 11 Bit Studios introduced INDIKA, a game set in a parallel 19th-century Russia made by Russian game developer Odd Meter Games. The news sparked outrage among the Ukrainian gaming community, with multiple accounts leaving disappointed comments on X (previously Twitter). AIN.Capital figured out what caused such a reaction and tells the details of the story.

What happened?

  • 11 Bit Studios is a Polish game development company based in Warsaw. The studio was founded in 2010 by former members of CD Projekt and Metropolis Software. It is best known for publishing popular indie titles like Frostpunk, Moonlighter, The Invincible, South of the Circle, The Atlers, and The Thaumaturge.
  • On October 18, 2023, 11 Bit Studios announced a new game called INDIKA, which the publisher describes as “a unique, narrative-driven adventure set in a parallel 19th-century Russia”. Along with the announcement, it also released a trailer about how “Russia’s unjust invasion of Ukraine affected the working relationship with Odd Meter”.
  • The post immediately garnered attention from the Ukrainian gaming community on X, who felt disappointed by the Polish publisher for giving the spotlight to the studio coming from the terrorist state of Russia.
  • Some of the users even expressed the feeling of betrayal, as they loved playing 11 Bit Studios’ titles like Frostpunk, This War of Min, and many others.
  • Upon questions about whether the profits would be donated to some Ukrainian humanitarian of relief funds, 11 Bit Studios stated that “a part of the profits will be donated to Ukrainian children affected by the war,” not specifying how much this part actually is.

What does Odd Meter have to say about it?

The work on the game started before Russia launched a full-scale war in Ukraine. In the interview for Polygon, Odd Meter’s founder Dmitry Svetlow shared his feelings about working on the game, despite it being such a sensitive topic for many gamers in 2023:

“I had that feeling that they [the studio] should do it [pull out of the partnership]. I spent the last year getting rid of that guilt, because rationally I understood I shouldn’t feel it. I’m the person who should call myself a patriot, not those who kill Ukrainians, or send Russians to die,”

Svetlov said.

However, the studio decided to keep working on the project, as, according to the developer, INDIKA can be seen as a criticism of the Russian Orthodox church. So far, 10 of 14 Odd Meter workers left Russia for the new headquarters in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Why the outrage?

Incidentally, 11 Bit Studios announcement came out when Russia launched a “renewed offensive against Ukraine.” As thousands of Ukrainians die each month, the Ukrainian gaming community can feel particularly offended when publishers like 11 Bit Studios or CD Projekt RED show their appreciation for Russian gamers and said “culture”.

It’s commendable that exile developers like Odd Meter publicly condemn the Russian invasion and leave the country. However, 4 out of 14 Odd Meter workers who remained in Russia will probably continue paying taxes. To give such studios funds is to directly sponsor the Russian terrorist regime and war machine.