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World of Tanks maker Wargaming said it will pull out of Russia and Belarus, exiting its operations in those countries.
The company said it is making the transition as quickly as possible “with all due speed while remaining in full compliance with all laws and ensuring the ongoing safety and support of our employees.”
Over the past weeks, Wargaming said it has been conducting a strategic review of business operations worldwide.
“The company has decided it will not own or operate any businesses in Russia and Belarus and will leave both countries,” the company said.
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Wargaming was born in Minsk, Belarus, founded by CEO Victor Kislyi in 1998. The company made various war games for strategy fans until it launched World of Tanks in 2010. The game depicted first-person tank warfare in World War II, and it became a huge hit as a multiplayer online game. The company grew into one of the biggest companies in Eastern Europe, but it moved its headquarters from Belarus to Cyprus in 2011.
As of March 31, the company transferred its live games business in Russia and Belarus to local management of Lesta Studio in St. Petersburg, Russia. It said Lesta Studio is no longer affiliated with Wargaming. The company will not profit from this process either today or going forward, Wargaming said.
“Much to the contrary we expect to suffer substantial losses as a direct result of this decision,” Wargaming said. “We will be completing the operational transition During the transition period the live products will remain available in Russia and Belarus and will be operated by the new owner.”
Wargaming has also started the process of closing its studio in Minsk, Belarus.
“We will be providing as much severance and support as possible to our employees affected by the change,” Wargaming said. “Despite the magnitude of this decision, we as a company are confident in the future of our business and are committed to delivering quality games to our players.”
Wargaming said it had more than 550 employees in Ukraine and it was attempting to help them. But two days after the war began on February 24, creative director Sergey Burkatovskiy resigned from the company due to his support for the war. The company disavowed Burkatovskiy’s personal views.
Wargaming’s studio in Ukraine was one of the biggest, and the impact of the geopolitics of the war has been huge for the game industry. An estimated 30,000 people in Ukraine made games for development studios, many who did work-for-hire for game publishers around the world.
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