The first-person shooter game Atomic Heart from Mundfish has only been available for a little over a week, yet it has already sparked a great deal of controversy. As a product developed by a Russian company, the game, with its Soviet themes, has drawn understandable ire from the people of Ukraine, who are currently repelling an illegal invasion from Russia.
The timing of the game's release has been the main source of controversy. Critics have accused Mundfish of endorsing Russia's acts of genocide, since it released the game three days before the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In addition to claims that the Russian government will profit from the game's sales, Ukrainian officials have taken steps to get the game banned internationally as well. Thus far Mundfish has not condemned the war despite public calls for it to do so.
Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, issued a statement to the Ukranian tech website Dev.au (the English version was issued to PCGamesN), imploring digital gaming platforms to halt sales of the game.
Here is the full statement:
Regarding the situation with the release of the game Atomic Heart, which has Russian roots and romanticises communist ideology and the Soviet Union, The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine will send an official letter to Sony, Microsoft, and Valve requesting a ban on selling digital versions of this game in Ukraine.
We also urge limiting the distribution of this game in other countries due to its toxicity, potential data collection of users, and the potential use of money raised from game purchases to conduct a war against Ukraine.
According to media reports, the game’s development was funded by Russian enterprises. Therefore, we call for all users worldwide to avoid this game.
We also want to emphasise that the game developers have not publicly condemned the Putin regime and the bloody war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine.
As of now, Mundfish hasn't responded to the statement. If nothing else, the game developer has refuted the accusations of collecting data of Russian users and handing it over to the authorities in Russia.
Even though the developers haven't been willing to face criticism over the release, composer Mick Gordon recently made a statement against the war and donated his fee from the project to the Red Cross Ukraine appeal.
In case you're itching for a game in this vein, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series developed by the Ukrainian GSC Game World studio is a fantastic alternative, with multiple installments that all routinely get mentioned fondly as classics of the genre, right up there with the Fallout series.
Atomic Heart, which was released on February 21, is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S for now.