The world went through a considerable effort to synchronize all moods during the pandemic and now, with the war in Ukraine, there is also a threat of all (or almost all) rowing in the same direction. Beyond the war contributions and the money allocated to aid and refugees, a large part of the world’s companies have contributed their grain of sand to torpedo (although sometimes the word torpedo stay big and we would rather talk about bother) the Russian economy.
During these months of conflict we have seen how large multinationals, from McDonald’s to Starbucks, from Mango to Nike to Apple, have left the largest country on the planet, often at the cost of significant losses in their businesses. Losses that they are willing to assume in the conviction that one way or another Russia must be fought.
The interactive world has not been left behind, and there have been numerous video game companies that, in one way or another, have boycotted the digital space of the country governed by Vladimir Putin. The giant EA Sports banned Russian teams from the games of FIFAthe Polish studio CD Projekt has stopped selling its games in the country and also in Belarus (an undisguised ally of the Kremlin), the game stalker 2 (based on the Chernobyl disaster) stopped development, the Pokémon franchise donated $200,000 for Ukrainian refugees, Sony suspended the release of Grand Touring 7 in Russia, Nintendo has paralyzed the digital store of its Switch console there… They are small shows of support for Ukraine that reflect a direct rejection of Russian aggression. Perhaps they are not as important gestures as the sanctions of the European Union or the active shipment of weapons, but it is already known: a grain does not make a barn, but…
On Monday we learned of the latest of these movements: the Czech company SCS Software announced that would not remove the Russian expansion of its star game, Euro Truck Simulator 2. That cancellation is due, according to the company’s statement, because they do not want the launch to be perceived “in any way as support or tolerance of the aggression” unleashed by the Kremlin.
The game, Euro Truck Simulator 2, is a driving simulator that recreates European roads and offers the player the (for some insipid but obviously for some exciting) challenge of calmly driving a freight truck. The challenge is not so much speed as fuel and toll management; the reward is not so much a shot of adrenaline as the contemplation of European landscapes from our virtual cabin.
Last September the game received an Iberian expansion, which rebuilt the highways and motorways of 37 cities (there were already Madrid and Barcelona) in Spain and Portugal. A similar expansion, which reconstructed the roads that surround St. Petersburg or Moscow, is the one that was going to go on sale now and will no longer do so.
However, something curious happens with Euro Truck Simulator 2. It turns out that the game, although niche, is a success. According to data from the end of 2021, the video game brings together up to 60,000 players at the same time every day. 60,000 players who pretend to be truck drivers from their rooms. That is to say: a game that consists of being a virtual truck driver is a success while the same Europe portrayed in the work of SCS Software suffers from a shortage of real truck drivers because people no longer want to dedicate themselves to that profession. Compounded by the war in Ukraine, the shortage of carriers on the continent is estimated at 500,000. In Spain alone, we talk about needing 20,000 truckers. Obviously it is not the same to be a real truck driver than a virtual one, but it is still curious. Of the digital world that is coming to us there are many things that we do not know yet. But we know one thing: that it will be full of paradoxes.