Russian consumers are no longer a part of the console gaming market, as Nintendo and Sony have officially followed Microsoft in cutting off new console and game sales in the country in response to the continuing invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement provided to the press, Nintendo said overnight that it has “decided to suspend shipping all Nintendo products to Russia for the foreseeable future” due to “considerable volatility surrounding the logistics of shipping and distributing physical goods.”
Nintendo Russia had previously announced that its online eShop had been put into an inaccessible “maintenance mode” in Russia “due to the fact that the payment service used in Nintendo eShop has suspended the processing of payments in rubles.”
Nintendo’s announcement came shortly after Sony announced late Wednesday that it had “suspended all software and hardware shipments… and operations of the PlayStation Store in Russia.” Sony also announced a $2 million donation to two charities to “support the victims of this tragedy.”
Sony’s announcement came after gamers noticed last week that Sony’s highly anticipated Gran Turismo 7 had not launched in Russia alongside the rest of the world; Sony now confirms that launch has been suspended.
A relatively minor market
The major console makers’ united front in the Russian market comes as many major game publishers—including Take-Two, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, and CD Projekt Red—have similarly pulled out of the country.
While Russia is a growing market for the game industry, the country still didn’t crack the top 10 nations by total game industry revenues in a 2021 NewZoo report. In an investor note, CD Projekt Red noted that Russian and Belarussian customers accounted for 5.4 percent and 3.7 percent of the company’s sales in the last 12 months, respectively.
Console gaming has traditionally been the smallest portion of the Russian gaming market, which is more focused on mobile and PC games, including free-to-play titles. PriceWaterhouseCooper analyst Kirill Tikhonov attributed that fact to the limited funds most Russian consumers have to spend on expensive consoles.
Russian console gaming has also long experienced extremely high piracy rates, limiting revenues for console makers in the country. The Russian government is reportedly considering legalizing software piracy to get around sanctions from governments and tech corporations.
Principle and market size aside, console makers may be finding it hard to do business in Russia even if they wanted to. Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal are among the major payment processors that have ceased operating in the country, and the rapid collapse of the price of the Russian ruble on the open market makes the prospect of selling in the country more difficult than in the past.
While Valve has yet to make any announcement regarding its popular PC game storefront in Russia, third-party payment issues mean that users in the country can reportedly only use existing Steam wallet funds to purchase games. Google has apparently shut off payments in the Google Play Store due to “payment system disruptions.” Apple has yet to officially follow suit with the iOS App Store, though the company halted new device sales in the country last week.