Russia wants to ban popular games with “hidden inserts” that affect young minds
WTF?! Russia appears to be following in China’s footsteps by tightening its grip on the video game industry. The country wants to protect its youth from the “negative influences” of games and hopes to create a banned list of popular games that use “hidden inserts” to “affect the conscious and subconscious.”
Russian edition Kommersant (through PCGamer) reports that the Russian government has instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office and its ministries to impose restrictions on video games domestically. A commission under the council of legislators made strange claims about unnamed popular titles that affect the consciousness and subconscious of the players. Apparently, they also contain “malicious and prohibited content.”
The commission wants to create a list of approved and banned games, as well as a catalog of approved online games that will operate as the Russian RuStore, an alternative to Google Play/App Store. It is also proposed that any publications intended for release in the district be checked by the Competence Center for Import Substitution in the Sphere of ICT (CCIKT) for the presence of objectionable content.
Another suggestion is that all computers sold in the Russian Federation come with parental control software pre-installed.
These “hidden inserts” can refer to many things. If this were somewhere outside of Russia, one would automatically assume that this is the practice of subtly (or non-subtly) persuading players to spend money on microtransactions like loot boxes. Which could this is the case here, but the pro-Western themes in the games can also be perceived.
There are concerns about the impact such rules would have on the video game industry, which is already struggling in the country under sanctions. Alexander Malakhov, director of the Digital Development Center at the Center for Strategic Research, also noted that since Russian patriotic products are not yet available, this will definitely limit the number of approved games.
Even if these measures are put in place, Russian gamers are likely to find ways around them using torrents and VPNs. Valve, for example, last year banned users living in Russia from buying games through Steam, but this did not prevent residents of the country from circumventing the restrictions.