Blizzard reveals that the latest Overwatch comic was not banned by Russia due to its ‘gay propaganda’ law. The comic, which confirms Overwatch‘s first gay character, is unavailable in the country but Blizzard says that it was not Russia itself that made this so.
The suggestion that the comic had been banned by the country followed recent calls from Russian MPs that FIFA 17 should also be banned for gay propaganda.
Overwatch Comic Unavailable in Russia Due to Gay Propaganda Law
— Vadim (@YellowAfterlife) December 20, 2016
After the Overwatch comic strip went live yesterday, some fans of the game noted that the comic is unavailable in Russia. A message from Blizzard read that “in accordance with Russian law we cannot share this comic with our players on territory of Russian Federation.”
However, contrary to reports that Russia made the decision to ‘ban’ the comic, Blizzard says that this wasn’t the case. In a statement to to Eurogamer, the company clarifies that “Blizzard decided not to publish in Russia to comply with Russian legislation” and that “we preemptively decided not to publish given the climate in Russia and Legal feedback.”
That Blizzard decided not to risk violating the Russian law, which forbids “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” is unsurprising. Overwatch has a 12 age rating in the country and in using the comic to promote the game, Blizzard risked having the game banned or there could be calls for the game to be reclassified for ages 18 and over.
It’s unclear just how many copies (digitally or physically) of Overwatch have been sold in Russia, though the game is wildly popular there. Russia reached the finals of the Overwatch World Cup last month and though the team was ultimately defeated by South Korea, the event showed off the country’s prowess at the game. Blizzard could potentially stand to lose many sales if the game was banned or reclassified in the country.
Understandably though, some are disappointed that Blizzard chose not to go up against the Russian law instead. Some argue that Blizzard should have taken a stand, showing that it is unconcerned by the law and any potential repercussions.
As Overwatch has multiple LGBT characters, it is unlikely that the conversation surrounding Overwatch and the Russian gay propaganda law will die down any time soon. Blizzard will have to take the law into account – whether it decides to go up against it or work around it – again and it will be interesting to see how it chooses to reveal the next LGBT hero.