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In context: International sanctions levied against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine have prevented Russian customers from buying games on global digital platforms. One Russian developer has given its consent to fans in the country to pirate its game if they have no other choice.
This week, Russia-based developer Four Quarters gave Russian fans asking how to buy its game Loop Hero permission to pirate it if they could not figure out a way to purchase it because of sanctions. The response came via the Russian social media platform VK.
Currently, there is a loophole through Russian payment provider Qiwi that might work on Steam, but there is no way for Russians to buy the Nintendo Switch version. As a result, the indie studio said fans should download a torrent of Loop Hero and provided a link to the game on the popular Russian torrent service RuTracker.
Ever since Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal stopped operations in Russia earlier this month, it has become difficult, if not impossible, for Russians to buy digital products on foreign platforms, including games. Steam also can't send payments to Russia, Belarus, or Ukraine. However, Steam users based elsewhere can still buy games from developers in those countries, including Loop Hero, but the studio can't cash out the payments.
Four Quarters isn't the first developer to endorse piracy of its game, if only conditionally. In 2017, Polish indie developer Acid Wizard Studio posted a torrent of its title, Darkwood, on The Pirate Bay. In an admission that some degree of piracy was inevitable, Arc Wizard wanted to ensure players got a malware-free copy of the game.
Though Four Quarters said it is against the war on the day Russia invaded Ukraine, and at least one member of the studio has since moved to Georgia. Its willingness to allow the piracy in this case may be in response to Russia considering legalizing piracy to sidestep sanctions.