As a result of the ongoing military aggression by Russian troops in Ukraine, Niantic has decided not to make “Pokemon GO” and other games like “Pikmin Bloom” available for download in Russia. Russians who already own games on their phones will also be unable to play Niantic-based games, making their nation, along with Belarus, a rare “Pokemon GO” dark zone.
“We stand with the global community in hoping for peace and a rapid resolution to the violence and suffering in Ukraine,” Niantic said in a tweet. “Niantic’s games are no longer available for download in Russia and Belarus, and gameplay will also be suspended there shortly.”
Dark zones in “Pokemon GO” are extremely rare and are usually placed when a PokeStop or Gym is requested to be removed from an area. The last place in which “Pokemon GO” dark zones were put into effect was in the South Holland province of the Netherlands, after Niantic appeared in court in November 2016 over safety concerns that arose when the beaches of Kijkduin got crowded by players trying to catch rare Pokemon.
Apart from pulling “Pokemon GO” and “Pikmin Bloom” from Russia and blocking access to these games, Niantic pledged to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, including UNICEF, United Help Ukraine, International Medical Corps, Sunflower of Peace, and Norwegian Refugee Council. In a blog post released on March 3, 2022, the developer announced it raised $75,000 internally by matching employee donations. Additionally, it donated $200,000 “directly to humanitarian organizations supporting the people and refugees of Ukraine.”
Following Ukrainian Vice Premier Mykhailo Fedorov’s call for strong sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Niantic joins other game companies, including PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo, in pulling their games out of the country. Russian sports teams have been removed from all FIFA games and “NHL 22,” Nintendo has put its Russian version of the eShop into maintenance mode, and PlayStation halted software and hardware shipments, the launch of “Gran Turismo 7,” and operations of its PlayStation Store in Russia.