In a surprising move, Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed the establishment of an annual Russian Online Games “Cyberchampionship.” The tournament aims to promote the country’s domestic gaming industry and showcase games developed by Russian and friendly foreign developers. However, the most unexpected aspect of this directive is the exclusion of the popular game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) due to its perceived “one-sided coverage of political events within the game’s universe.”

Boosting the Russian Gaming Industry

The Cyber Championship, announced during Putin’s visit to an exhibition of creative industries, intends to provide a platform for Russian-made games and those developed by friendly nations. Games such as World of Tanks, World of Warships, and World of Tanks Blitz, operated by Lesta Games, will take center stage. These titles were transferred to Lesta Games after Wargaming, the original operator, moved its Russian and Belarusian gaming business following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Shift Away from Western Tech

This move to establish a national gaming championship aligns with Russia’s ongoing efforts to cultivate a culturally and economically independent gaming sector. Since the departure of western tech companies from the country, Russia has been keen on reducing dependence on Western technologies. The initiative could serve as a foundation for nurturing a state-funded domestic game engine, a “Russian Electronic Arts,” and safeguarding Russian youth from alleged hidden messages in Western games.

CS:GO Controversy

The exclusion of CS:GO from the tournament raises eyebrows, especially due to the reason cited by Gaukhar Aldiyarova, an executive from Lesta Games. Aldiyarova claims that CS:GO’s “one-sided coverage of political events within the game’s universe” renders it unfit for the Cyber Championship. This comment might stem from the recent attempt by Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat to convey information about the Ukraine war through CS:GO maps.

Future Plans and Participation

Although the tournament is still in its planning stages, the initial competitions are expected to take place in Russia’s far eastern territories, such as Vladivostok. Gaming experts and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives will collaborate to create a detailed plan for organizing the championship. The tournament could serve as a platform for the participants of Russia’s state cybersports school, established last year, to showcase their skills.

Driving the Growth of Russian Esports

While the exclusion of CS:GO due to political coverage controversy raises concerns about censorship, Putin’s directive highlights the Russian government’s commitment to nurturing a vibrant domestic gaming industry. The Cyber Championship will provide an opportunity for Russian developers and their foreign counterparts to exhibit their creations, bolstering the growth of esports within the country. As the championship takes shape, it remains to be seen how this initiative will shape the future of Russian esports.

In conclusion, Putin’s order to create an annual Russian Cyber Championship, excluding CS:GO due to concerns over political coverage, highlights Russia’s efforts to promote domestic gaming and reduce reliance on Western technologies. This unique initiative aims to provide a platform for Russian and friendly foreign game developers while supporting the growth of esports within the country. As the championship takes shape, it will undoubtedly pique the interest of gaming enthusiasts and industry insiders alike, shaping the landscape of Russian esports for years to come.