Company of Heroes 2 will no longer be sold in Russia

#1 Posted by MocBucket62 (1180 posts) -

Company of Heroes 2 might be seen as one of the biggest mixed bags to the gaming public. While one side of gamers seem to really enjoy it for being a solid RTS, another side seems to dislike it for an entirely different reason. Russian critics have complained about how inaccurate the game's portrayal of the Soviet Union from World War II was. These critics have also stated that the portrayal simply caters to the Western bias about the USSR's efforts in WW2 and uses cliches and tropes to depict the Red Army. Because of these complaints, Company of Heroes 2 will no longer be sold in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States, which is a group of former USSR nations. 1C-SoftClub, not Sega, is the distributor of this game in Eastern Europe and has released quotes explaining why the decision was made and how they are handling the issue:

"In connection with appeals of people who consider unaccepptable number of episodes of the game, the company IC-SoftClub chose 26 July 2013 to stop selling PC game Company of Heroes 2 (developer - Relic Entertainment, publisher - Sega) in the territory of the Russian Federation and CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States]"

"At the moment we are analyzing the situation and [informing] the developer and publisher of Company of Heroes 2."


I remember reading on Patrick's latest Worth Reading, Polygon's Colin Campbell defended the portrayal of the war saying he had to select certain battle and incidences to give the game a good narrative and breadth. Campbell also said that campaign was inspired by combat journalist, Vasily Grossman, who studied and lives in the front lines for 3 years and shows both the greatest bravery among the men and the cruelty and competition that occurred in the military. Seems like the Russians disagree with this as they have shown great disapproval of the way Relic portrayed their army from World War II. Not to mention that there is a petition asking for Valve to remove Company of Heroes 2 from Steam because of the false representation of the events of the Eastern Front of the war. The Petition currently has 17,160 supporters and it seems that Gabe Newell will take this petition seriously.

While I do not think Relic intended to offend the Russian audience with this game, clearly their efforts were not enough to keep the game on sale in Russia and maybe off of Steam if that petition gets enough supporters. It also seems like that they looked at the wrong history books to depict the Red Army and the events of the Eastern Front.

Sega and Relic are also acknowledging the problems the surround this title. One Sega representative told Polygon:

"Sega and Relic are aware of the press stories circulating concerning Company of Heroes 2 and the historical context of the game from a Russian perspective. At this time we cannot offer any further comment, however we are taking this issue very seriously and are investigating these concerns thoroughly with all relevant partners."

To show how aware Sega is of the Russian public's response to Company of Heroes 2' depiction of the USSR, they have forced other developers to remove USSR imagery in other Sega games. In the PC version of Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, one of the free DLC characters is General Winter, who is suppose to represent Company of Heroes 2. He's a fictional Russian general who drives a tank on land, an airplane in air and a submarine on water. There will be a patch that will remove the use of the Russian hammer and sickle image whenever his vehicle transformed. Also his All Star Move, which is a special move that is unique to each character in the game, is likely to change as the original was a giant hammer and sickle swinging around the character whenever opponents were nearby (Smashing Sonic's face with a Russian hammer would be pretty sweet though). I could be wrong on this, but I think the patch is made if you download the latest free DLC character, Willemus, who represents Total War: Rome II.

And if anyone wants to know who Willemus is, he's actually not a character from Rome II. His likeness and name is based off of Creative Assembly Community Manager, Will Overgard. Strange, but then again the DLC for the PC version is freaking weird so I guess it fits.

#2 Posted by Tennmuerti (8057 posts) -

@mocbucket62:

Speaking as a Russian, those other uppity Russians can get bent. There will be prudes everywhere as will be people who are easily offended at the slightest provocation. Most people don't give a shit. I simply didn't find their portrayal of the war in any way objectionable. Bad shit happened, both sides did nasty stuff, boo-fucking-hoo, it's war, bad shit did happen.

Honestly I was more disappointed with the game part of the game, as it's mechanics failed to draw me in, and the campaign was incredibly lackluster, I eventually had to stop playing as I was just not having fun anymore. And the voice acting, man that is terrible in both languages.

And hooooly shit that petition couldn't be more offensive. To me, as a Russian. It praises the people who fought in the war, which is deserved to be clear, but somehow wants to censor all the evil and cruelty that war brings out in people too. To deny people the ability to show the other side of the coin only serves to cheapen the deeds of good men that occurred at the same time. Self sacrifice and nobility is that much more valuable for the adversity it faced (and not only from the axis side).

I have the out most respect and gratitude towards the people, including my own older generations of family, that did fight in the war and that did spill their blood to protect us.

But fuck that, petition. Fuck them and their rose tinted goggles. And fuck their attempt at that censorship bullshit too.

That's how I feel anyway.

#3 Posted by Abendlaender (2779 posts) -

A videogame not portraying history 100% correct? Stop the presses!

#4 Posted by MocBucket62 (1180 posts) -

@tennmuerti: I just want to clarify that I haven't actually played Company of Heroes 2, but this news just seemed interesting to me. To see how the public opinion of Russian gamers felt about the portrayal of the Red Army fascinated me mainly because I'm a history junkie and by nature I get wrapped up into news that involves people debating over the historical accuracy of a product like this. But reading your opinion about this issue made me look at it at a different stance. You're right that bad stuff happened in WW2 and maybe the public needs to get over it. And again, this is a video game, for while developers might do their best to make a game as historically accurate as possible, they have to be reminded that they are making a game and not a history textbook. They may need to take some liberties to achieve their game design goals, or at least that's how I see it.

And the more I think about it, the more that petition seems like it will be a failure, at least hearing from your point of view. Being able to censor some the evil that was released by the soldiers may not offend a crowd who would not want to see that, but that could rob the crowd from realizing that this war brought out the worst in the army's men.

Thank you for your insight on this news!

#5 Posted by jakob187 (21662 posts) -

A videogame not portraying history 100% correct? Stop the presses!

No shit. It's a solid game as an RTS. Besides, who comes to a strategy game for the single player?

#6 Edited by Nasos100 (727 posts) -

@jakob187: actually way more people than you would think. Out of the GB crew for example only brad played SC2 for the multiplayer.

#7 Posted by jakob187 (21662 posts) -

@nasos100: Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that people don't play the single player in RTS games. I'm more saying "who comes to a strategy game FOR the single player?" RTS games are far more about playing against other people, whether online or LAN. I just don't know anyone that is coming to it for the single player and never touching the multiplayer.

Also, to be fair, most of the Giant Bomb crew barely have time for more than one game every two days or so, let alone trying to actually be competitive at all in StarCraft 2's multiplayer. That's not necessarily a fair comparison.

#8 Posted by leebmx (2238 posts) -

@mocbucket62 @tennmuerti I have read a little bit about Russia in WWII. Some biogs of Stalin and Antony Beevor's books 'Stalingrad' and 'Berlin the Downfall.' The Russians fought incredibly hard, almost suicidally brave at points. But their were atrocities by the Russians against everyone, including their own side. Can you tell me a little more detail about what incidents in the game people are complaining about?

#9 Posted by Tennmuerti (8057 posts) -

@jakob187: There is a quite a significant portion of people that are only interested in the SP part of strategy games. Hell every strategy game I've played since C&C and Warcraft was FOR single player, only ever dabbling in MP a bit here or there. Now you know someone.

@leebmx: There are your usual suspects. Soldiers not begin issued guns and told to pickup weapons of those dead, officers shooting retreating troops, scorched earth policy. The backdrop (and tying element) is after all an officer who became disillusioned with war and wrote a book about it, being questioned by his previous commander. People seem(ed) to be complaining in general about everything when i looked at Steam forums on release, with plenty arguing otherwise.

(damn this new forum editor is terrible for replying and quoting multiple people)

#10 Posted by Nasos100 (727 posts) -

@jakob187: I know people that played WC3 and SC2 just for the multiplaer with no intention of playing multiplayer, thats what i meant

#11 Posted by MocBucket62 (1180 posts) -

@leebmx: I remember from watching the video "Why Russians Hate Company of Heroes 2" one of the complaints is that the game's campaign puts a major focus on how the Red Army killed its own soldiers when they were retreating from battle or if they disobeyed their orders. The person thought this was garbage because compared to the first Company of Heroes, the Russians are the only ones portrayed as soldiers that will shoot their own soldiers if they did not obey the commands. He felt it was unfair that the Russians were portrayed like this, yet in Company of Heroes 1, he said that we don't see the evil consume the American soldiers and have them do terrible things to their own men. Another thing he pointed out is that he did not like it when in the game, you have to burn down houses with Russian citizens when he felt it was illogical and unlikely that this even occured in the war. From what I'm hearing, it sounds like those who are offended by the game's portrayal of the Red Army feel that this game makes the Russians looked like an evil army that did unforgivable things to their own men instead of looking like real heroes who defeated the Nazis in the East. There might be more that I'm missing, but that's what I've heard thus far.

#12 Edited by BaconGames (3358 posts) -

It bears directly linking because I think Colin Cambell's article was rather comprehensive, accurate, and fair to the situation. I suppose I could say what I think but it would be more beneficial for people to read the article anyway.

I agree with the critics that the game trades on cliche perhaps a bit too much in anticipation of its audience, and certainly isn't getting awards for its storytelling either. I think the issue is, beyond what I just mentioned, there is a disappointment Russians didn't get the Band of Brothers treatment which does rope in bigger questions of Russian nationalism concerning the war and how it even now actively tinkers with its involvement in the war.

Should the CoH2 been Soviet Russian Band of Brothers? Does that call into question why the first game was in the first place? I don't know enough off hand to answer those questions myself but with the article in mind I think those are the only questions left to explore.

To give a stab at it, I think the reality of what the American and Russian infantry fronts were like are a big factor and why a fair representation of both sides inherently biases a bit more Bands of Brothers-y on the American side. The other is past media and how the ideal could be realistically matched up to the reality. To my knowledge and play experience, Brothers in Arms is the closest I've seen video games approach World War II with any accuracy on the human side of things but since American developers have access to a wealth of written personal accounts in English, and various war films to reference from our own culture, I think the two line up to make it that much easier to have the scrappy heroic Americans taking down the Nazi menace. Although, you can even see it in the plaques and memorials in places like Germany where the story of American involvement and liberation follows this theme. In that way, although not equivalent to other nation's efforts, it is still important to sort out ideal history versus reality.

#13 Edited by Giantstalker (1601 posts) -

77 years of Soviet propaganda and revisionism didn't just mysteriously end in December 1991. It's still alive in history books, popular opinion, and sadly even monuments over there.

The Great Patriotic War is remembered very differently, and while some things Relic did were a little corny, I have to side with them on this matter. Russia seems eager to forget things like Katyn Forest in order to preserve the unblemished memory of a righteous war; if anything, the game didn't go far enough to show just how brutal both sides were in the conflict.

#14 Edited by JouselDelka (967 posts) -
#15 Posted by ZagZagovich (757 posts) -

Speaking as a different Russian I have to say this issue is really upsetting. Especially with the way this country has been developing over the years. COH2's campaign was a bit over the top with focusing on the war crimes and having the terrible Hollywood soviets in it as characters didn't help, especially after the first game being about as serious as Saving Private Ryan. I also have the utmost respect for people who fought in the war and seeing them portrayed so unfavorably feels pretty gross (even though I can't deny the actual war crimes that have been committed, but you can't paint the whole army of which millions have been killed with the same brush). On the other hand however this petition and the result of it is just terrible. Even making me a bit scared for my future here. If this is the way majority feels here we could end up in a horrible regime again and I sure as hell don't want that.

P.S.

I play RTS games for single player only.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.