In Russia, they want to ban the sale and release of video games that contain “prohibited information” and contain LGBT characters. This is reported by Kommersant, referring to the preparation of a draft law by the Ministry of Economy jointly with the Ministry of Health, Roskomnadzor and the Ministry of Digital Development, which should come into force on March 1, 2024. Changes are planned to be made to the Federal Law “On Information” and the Federal Law “On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health”.
With the help of the bill, the departments plan to ensure “the safety of computer game content for the health of citizens”, as well as to carry out “prevention of socially dangerous acts under the influence of game content.”
If the law is passed, developers and publishers of video games will be required to label content according to age categories, and some foreign games will be banned. The content will be monitored by expert organizations, the criteria for their selection will be developed by Roskomnadzor.
The owner of the Kanobu portal, Gadzhi Makhtiev, said that developers are now using international rules for classifying game content by age categories, the examination is carried out by the European rating organization PEGI. According to him, if the new law is adopted, games that are distributed, including through digital platforms, may be under attack.
“Roskomnadzor and the prosecutor’s office will have the right to demand from Steam or the Epic Games Store to prevent the sale of a game to Russian customers, where, say, one of the characters is gay.”
At the same time, the expert added that if Steam ignores the requirements, the authorities will have a tool to completely block the site.
Roskomnadzor explained to the publication that there is currently no special regulation regarding computer games in the legislation. At the same time, the state must ensure in this area the necessary level of "social security, protection of history, cultural and traditional values." The Ministry of Health stated that these issues are being worked out jointly with other departments. The Ministry of Digital Development and the Ministry of Economy declined to comment.
Kirill Lyakhmanov, Chief Legal Counsel for the Intellectual Property Practice of EBR law firm, cited China as an example, where the state actively regulates the gaming industry and checks foreign games for "prohibited content." At the same time, the Chinese authorities check everything: from the image of skulls to the denial of the country's territorial borders. The specialist cites Statista data, according to which from August 2021 to the spring of 2022, not a single new game was approved in China. Statista predicts that in 2022, "the global gaming market will go negative for the first time in terms of the number of players." Lyakhmanov concluded that if a new bill is adopted in Russia and sanctions are imposed on violators, the distribution of a number of games may stop. However, this will not affect the very availability of games that can be “downloaded from torrents,” the lawyer concluded.