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WTF?! Russia appears to be following in China's footsteps by tightening its control over the video games industry. The country wants to protect its youth from the "negative influence" of games, and hopes to create a banned list of popular titles that use "hidden inserts" to "affect the conscious and subconscious mind."
Russian publication Kommersant (via PCGamer) reports that the Russian government has instructed the Prosecutor General's Office and its ministries to introduce restrictions on video games within the country. A commission under the council of legislators made the strange claims of unnamed popular titles influencing the conscious and subconscious minds of players. They also contain "malicious and prohibited content," apparently.
The commission wants to create a list of approved and banned games, as well as a catalog of approved online titles that will work like Russia's RuStore, a Google Play/App Store alternative. It also suggests that any titles set for release in the county be checked by the Competence Centre for Import Substitution in the ICT Sphere (TsKIKT) for objectionable content.
Will Russia approve of Red Alert 3?
Another suggestion is for all PCs sold in the Russian Federation to come pre-installed with parental control software.
These "hidden inserts" could refer to many things. Were it somewhere other than Russia, one would automatically imagine it's the practice of subtly (or unsubtly) convincing players to spend money on microtransactions like loot boxes. That could be the case here, but it might also be perceived pro-Western themes in games.
There are concerns over what impact such rules would have on a video game industry already struggling in the sanction-hit country. Alexander Malakhov, director of the Center for Digital Development at the Center for Strategic Research, also noted that as there are no Russian patriotic products available yet, which would definitely limit the number of approved games.
Even if these measures are introduced, Russian gamers will likely find ways around them using the likes of torrents and VPNs. Valve, for example, stopped users living in Russia from buying games via Steam last year, but that hasn't prevented people in the country from bypassing the restrictions.