Strategic Mind – Spectre of Communism : bande-annonce

Alors que son précédent titre, Blitzkrieg, a semble-t-il été banni de Russie peu après sa sortie, voyez l’explication dans le communiqué ci-après, le studio ukrainien Starni Games a récemment dévoilé très brièvement son prochain jeu qui prendra pour décor la guerre à l’est en 41-45. Cela a priori joué du coté de l’URSS.

Faute de communiqué, pour plus d’informations sur Strategic Mind : Spectre of Communism, dont la sortie est prévue au quatrième trimestre de cette année, voyez cette page sur Steam.



The Russian government has stopped the Blitzkrieg

Strategic Mind: Blitzkrieg was banned in Russia by the Roskomnadzor decision effective today. We apologize to all the players from Russia, who no longer can purchase the game or open our Store page.

Yesterday, we got a letter from Valve informing us of the formal Roskomnadzor’s (a Russian government body charged with legislative power to ban any content without the court decision or public hearings) request to stop the distribution of Strategic Mind: Blitzkrieg in Russia. As we understood, by Russian law the ROSCOMNADZOR decision is enough to ban any game or other content in Russian segment of the Internet.

As lawful entities, both we and Valve had to comply with the Roskomnadzor’s decision.
So, now the game is not available in Russia in the Steam store. However, it is still available in the store, creating unequal competition. Additionally, the number of illegal downloads in Russia (i.e. torrent etc.) has surged dramatically. So, what was the purpose of Roskomnadzor’s actions, and did they succeed in their efforts? That is open to debate.

We want to be fully transparent about the situation, so here are the charges that were filed against the game. (The exact law or its paragraphs that we supposedly infringed, was not specified)
Here are the abstracts from the Roskomnadzor official request and our commentary on them:
[the game] “has clear signs of the rehabilitation of Nazism” (c) Roskomnadzor letter
“the game forms a loyal attitude towards Nazism and war criminals among the participants, belittles the exploits of the Soviet people in the struggle against Nazi invaders and is actually aimed at reviewing the results of the Second World War.” (c) Roskomnadzor letter

First of all, regarding the alleged “Nazi propaganda”. All party members (Hitler and Goering) are presented as negative characters and they make progressively more criminal moves the longer the campaign goes, so we are sure that closer to the end of the game the player will most likely be fed up with them. The scene everyone is talking about is only 75% into the game (many mistakenly think this is the ending video, however, it is said in description to the said video on YouTube that it happens 75% into the game) Moreover, Hitler is killed by the Resistance just a couple of operations later, and Goering becomes your enemy at the end and you storm Berlin to get rid of his criminal rule. In the end, both Hitler and Goering are dead and the new non-nazi government is formed in Germany, and the main character announces “There will be democratic elections and all power will not be concentrated in one hands!” etc.
The game has gone through the denazification process – all symbols that could violate the law were replaced or changed in such a way that they conform with the law.

Secondly, regarding the “reviewing the results of the Second World War”. We did say in the game description from the very beginning that it had the alternate history elements and would allow the player to see the outcome of the war should the German army be more successful than it was historically:
“While we strive for historical accuracy, we also allow you to explore various “what if’s” and see what could have happened should the German Armed forces be even more successful in their struggle for dominance over the European continent.” (c) Store page
Consequently, we do not claim any of the following: “USSR did not win the war”, “German troops have taken Moscow” etc. We just make a fictional scenario to let the people see what could have happened if they did. We think that the negative reaction from some people is a clear indication that we succeeded in showing all the adversities that could befall us all if that were to happen. Which can actually be considered to have an “anti-nazi” effect and serve as a condemnation of their actions. Or at the very least regarded as a fictional scenario. There is a number of similar works of art and entertainment such as “The Man in High Castle”, “Red Alert”, and many more.
We often get criticized that the game only presents the German side. However, we already did the US Pacific and Japanese Pacific campaigns in Strategic Mind: The Pacific and plan to make USSR and Allied perspectives in our future projects. So, we just need more time and resources to present the WW2 events both real and alternate history from every major participant perspective. Also, there were other games before, like Panzer Corps 2 where only the German campaign was available, with alternate history elements

Thirdly, regarding the “the game forms a loyal attitude towards Nazism and war criminals” accusation. There is a wide-spread misconception in the Russian press, who obviously did not play the game nor examined the Store page, that “Hitler is the player character”. In fact, you play as Franz Halder – a German officer who was not tried by the Nuremberg tribunal, and who was imprisoned by Hitler’s regime on 23 July 1944. Moreover, “In 1961 he was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award for this work. This award was bestowed by Major General Edgar C. Doleman on behalf of President John F. Kennedy. Halder thus became the only German to be decorated by both Adolf Hitler and an American president. (He had received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross from Hitler in 1939.)” © In the actual game Halder often opposes Hitler and argues with him. At some point, Hitler even dismisses him from his position. The rest of the officers even get arrested, as Hitler doubts their loyalty.
Thus, we think these accusations are completely unfounded.

Lastly, we would like to point out that with accusations being so vague and open to multiple interpretations, the issue is left unclear both for us and any other developers and literary any new game can be banned with some rather vague and ill-informed accusations.

To sum up, we would like you to know that we see no real substance to these accusations, and they seem very vague to us. We have let you know our perspective. Additionally, Steam user reviews are very positive, and we do not think that would have been the case had the game contain real nazi propaganda (unless the 83% of Steam users are nazi supporters, which would have been even more far-fetched). We want players all over the world, including the Russian Federation to enjoy our games. We stand firmly on the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of creation (to the point it conforms with the law, of course). We would not want to create a precedent of the case where the game can be prohibited without solid proof of it violating the law and without reasonable consideration. We are worried that games might get banned by mistake or by the willful actions of some government officials.

By Russian law, both we and Valve had to comply with the Roskomnadzor’s decision.

Still, it seems to us that the actions of the Roskomnadzor lack logic and consistency. There is no detailed explanation as to which law was broken and by what episode (the only thing they mentioned was “a parade of Nazi troops on Red Square in Moscow reviewed by Adolf Hitler, who was recognized as an international war criminal by the sentence of the International Nuremberg Tribunal.” (c) Roskomnadzor
Secondly, the game is still available in the store, so that creates an unfair market for the game in Russia.
Thirdly, that decision makes players in Russia (who want to play the game but cannot do so legally) think about illegal methods of getting a copy, i.e. promote piracy.
Finally, such actions, without solid consideration or investigation of the case, lead to the infringement of the customers’ rights in Russia.

We regret that it has come to this, but that is what happens when an important decision (about the game with over 100 hours of gameplay) is being made after watching a 30-second-long video on YouTube.

With best regards
Ihor Tymoshenko
The CEO of Starni Games