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    Atomic Heart

    Game » consists of 2 releases. Released Feb 21, 2023

    An adventure first-person shooter set in an alternate-reality Soviet Union.

    So...what's up with this game?

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    AnchorsAhoy

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    This is the first time I'm creating a topic, so apologies if there are any mistakes or breaches in etiquette...

    Atomic Heart is nearing release (Feb. 21st), but I haven't really seen much information about it recently. While reading up on it, I started to stumble on several reports and articles highlighting...let's call it shady activity surrounding the game. Mundfish, the developer, seems to have at least previous ties to companies supporting the Russian government, and had agreements in their Privacy Policy statement about sharing personal information of players to the Russian government, which have since been removed. They also haven't made a clear condemnation on the war with Ukraine or the actions of the Russian government. They apparently had a communism-themed party for the game, that displayed Soviet Union messaging in a way that seemed a bit more than parody. Some people also questioned their pre-order practices being a little suspicious. I wasn't able to find an article about this, but supposedly some questioned why a developer no one has heard of before would even adopt a pre-order model similar to other big-name studios (they have a $60, $90, and $100 version). They also apparently started accepting pre-orders after only showing the first teaser trailer, which is only a minute long. This on its own wouldn't seem that odd to me, but combining it with everything else makes it easy to raise questions about exactly where the money for the game is going.

    Does anyone else have insights into any of this? I'm surprised these concerns haven't been brought up as they've happened (at least not to my knowledge). Maybe Mundfish has done enough to distance themselves from Russia at this point in the eyes of everyone anticipating the game, but to me it still seems like there are questions that haven't really been answered.

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    glots

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    I've seen people bring up these issues elsewhere for a while now, last time I heard it discussed on one of Nextlander's podcasts. I am still somewhat surprised that Microsoft has kept it on Game Pass with this stuff surfacing up, but I suppose they're treating everything as rumours until some solid evidence is presented or something? Or could there be a legal reason for them to not yank it out of GP?

    I was interested at one point, but all this has definitely tampered my expectations. Not that I was ever going to buy it, since it is coming to Game Pass. Hopefully things get cleared up one way or another once the game does come out.

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    blorphman

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    @anchorsahoy: My two cents for what it's worth. Clearly you are putting in the work to try and make an informed decision as a consumer about where to put your money. Definitely, there is some weirdness and lack of communication from this developer compared to our usual drip of gaming updates. But I think it's hard to judge this dev and the team at this point and should let the game stand on it's own merits. Pre-orders in the age of digital purchases don't make sense to me anyways.

    It is probably incredibly foolish for them to denounce the actions of their government considering it may put jobs at risk. It would be irresponsible of them to jeopardize their employee's livelihood for the sake of political statement to which they have zero involvement with. It's a different culture over there with their own set of risks.

    Keep in mind that there are probably plenty of developers who make games that you love but also disagree wholeheartedly with some of their views on the world. The only reason you don't know cause they don't have to tell you.

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    mellotronrules

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    yeah- to use the parlance of our time- the vibes are off with this one. it's difficult to put into words (and frankly the game's quality will speak for itself)- but ever since that first reveal this game felt like a trailer in search of a product.

    this is all unfair speculation from a rando on the internet (e.g., me)- but this game has always been a 'i'm going to let someone else play it before i do' kind of release.

    and this is all to say nothing of the game's origins- which, from an american vantage point (justly or unjustly)- anything coming out of russia sold in the USA will be subject to a raised eyebrow or two.

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    Panfoot

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    So it hasn't really become any more clear and it's doubtful it will, if it does it probably won't be until well after the game is long since been out, but to be frank: the majority of gamers just don't give a shit. You'll get some questioning here and there but at the end of the day people are gonna buy it anyway, and in this case game pass gives it an even easier justification than usual.

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    Shindig

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    I get it mixed up with Chernobylite.

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    LonelySpacePanda

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    If only Hardcore Dave were here to see the glorious return of GPU-demanding, janky Eastern bloc FPS!

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    BisonHero

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    #8  Edited By BisonHero

    @panfoot: Generally I would agree that the majority of gamers are either ignorant of, or know and simply don’t care about, the conduct of the developer of a game they play. Unless the Atomic Heart dev team personally pilots a battalion of tanks into Ukraine, I can’t imagine this significantly affecting sales of the game.

    As the game nears release, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if many gaming news outlets really try to openly criticize the devs over this. The vast majority probably don’t know about this dev (or this game) at all. Atomic Heart has had a few trailers at major showcases, but I feel like its marketing push has been pretty mild otherwise.

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    noboners

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    @bisonhero: it had a pretty big marketing push in the middle of January where most major video game publication (IGN, RPS, Gamespot, Digital Trends) ran a preview on the game after playing some hours of it. I watched several videos on it and this is just now the first I'm hearing about these ties to the Russian government.

    I did originally think the gameplay looked fun, but this news is definitely something to keep an eye on.

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    cikame

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    Gamers especially on PC are always looking out for bad practices in software, you always hear whenever anti cheat has kernel level access or if Denuvo is being used, so if this single player game is accessing or collecting things it has no reason to i'm sure we'll hear about it when it comes out.

    I've always been skeptical but this is the first i've heard of any weirdness, all of a sudden there's an industry of graphically impressive AAA Chinese and Russian "indie" games.

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    Broshmosh

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    Keep in mind that there are probably plenty of developers who make games that you love but also disagree wholeheartedly with some of their views on the world. The only reason you don't know cause they don't have to tell you.

    Whilst I understand that what you are saying is factually correct, I feel the need to ask, so what?

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    blorphman

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    @broshmosh: OP brought up the devs not outright condemning the ongoing conflict in Europe as a concern on his end as a consumer.

    The current landscape of consumers believing corporations need to align with them on all moral stances is unrealistic, mostly theater, and tends to dominate a lot of conversation. The point is the uncomfortable fact, for some people, is that you will always be supporting something you don't like so weigh things out appropriately. The weight people seem to apply to this dev in regards to making a political statement is a complete waste of energy. But all the articles on the matter used to get you to click on them will tell you otherwise. Be a realistic consumer.

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    Broshmosh

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    #13  Edited By Broshmosh

    @blorphman: Ultimately it's the consumer's choice where they put their money and why. "Realistic consumer" sounds like it could mean something different to everyone, too, and very easily used as a catch-all to downplay legitimate concerns people might have. The only realistic thing to posit at this point is this discussion is hardly likely to have a reflective impact on sales, and the game looks and sounds like it'll be a decent enough shooter.

    You are ostensibly correct, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, but the flipside of that phrase is that everybody's limits are different. If OP wants to collate developer-focused reasons to be wary of this game, I think that's perfectly justifiable - at least this way it doesn't outright pay into the click-hungry websites straight off the bat, and can inspire actual discussion.

    You might be comfortable to let the game stand on its own merits, but that doesn't mean everyone should be. After all, at what point do the game's merits, pertaining to a fight against a corrupted AI uprising and representing a lot of Russia-focused imagery, start to bleed into the dev situation? How much can we separate art from artist when the art may be directly pushing views held by the artist, that they may not tell us they hold for the sake of profit? At what point do we consider that this could be viewed as propaganda?

    I don't have the answers to these questions, and I barely have opinions on them, but it's a discussion worth having even if other products may be coming from those with views that may be similarly worrisome. The discussion can, since the game isn't out yet, only really be had by taking into account what has or hasn't been stated by the developers. You may disagree that it's worth having the discussion, and that's okay too, but this is what media analysis is about. Of course, media analysis will differ from person to person as well, and may often be incorrect in its position.

    Nobody here is telling anyone not to buy the game. BisonHero said it best when they said "Unless the Atomic Heart dev team personally pilots a battalion of tanks into Ukraine, I can’t imagine this significantly affecting sales of the game". This appears to be a discussion, rather than any attempt to impact sales or instigate a boycott.

    FWIW not trying to start beef, I'm just increasingly tired of "No ethical consumption under capitalism" being used as an attempt to curb discussion.

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    blorphman

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    #14  Edited By blorphman

    @broshmosh: no beef at all and I appreciate your response. Apologies if my post sounded combative or trying to squash discussion. Simply tried to be succinct.

    But yeah, I think we mostly agree and are probably getting our wires crossed in the nuance a bit. As I stated we should "weigh things out appropriately " as consumers. My thoughts on the specific issue we're discussing about the conflict holds no weight at all because it's quite possible they couldn't make a statement even if they wanted to. So how much should we hold that against them? Obviously, we'll probably never know but imo it shouldn't be the straw that breaks the camel's back if you're on the fence.

    100% agree in regards to your thoughts on the balance of art vs. propaganda, to which we'll just have to wait and see.

    Perhaps my point sounds a bit more broad-brush stroked than I intend. Which is probably from also being increasingly tired of more and more discussions online about ethical consumption being black/ white with no grey area.

    Realistically, most of us here will probably just play this through gamepass.

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    BladeOfCreation

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    I don't want to play games with ties to fascist governments. I also don't want to refuse to play games just because they're made in a particular country, because people are not their countries.

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    Broshmosh

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    @blorphman: In an amusing turn of events this thread & convo has actually made me more interested in the game from an objective viewpoint. Indeed, we'll have to wait and see what the game's actually like!

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    camitalo

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    I think on top of all that has been discussed in this thread is that this is a very impressive looking game from a studio with no history. As everyone has said, not every dev is going to agree with everyone politically speaking but at the same time I also don't have to buy into their products.

    I think the real test will be waiting for the game to come out, but this game straight from the beginning never really passed the smell test, and maybe I will be wrong but I think it's worth talking about.

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    isomeri

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    I can't hold Russian developers accountable for the actions of the Russian government, especially in the current situation where criticism towards the government is outlawed.

    Overall the content of a game matters more to me than the ties their developer might have. Microsoft have direct ties with the US military and Tencent have obvious ties to the Chinese government, but that hasn't stopped me from playing Forza or PUBG. With Call of Duty I have moral objections to both the content of the games and the actions of the developer, but I've still continued to play those games so I guess my flesh is weak.

    The story and themes of Atomic Heart are still quite vague to me so it's hard to make a judgement before reviews roll in.

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