Bethesda has quietly removed Russian language support from its upcoming sci-fi RPG Starfield (opens in new tab), and nobody seems to know why.
The change came to light by way of a nondescript entry in the Steam store page’s changelog on SteamDB (opens in new tab), which indicates that Russian and Russian subtitles were both removed from the game’s listed supported languages on April 11. The Internet Archive (opens in new tab) confirms that Russian language support was listed on the Starfield Steam page as recently as March 29.
There’s been no official word from Bethesda about why Russian language support was dropped, which has of course led to speculation on Reddit. A few optimistic souls believe it’s a principled stance against a militaristic, authoritarian regime, but the far more common theory is that it’s simply a cost-cutting move: There’s no point in supporting Russian (and paying for the requisite translations) because the game won’t be sold in Russia anyway because of international sanctions against the Russian government.
There’s also some pushback against the move. Some redditors believe that Bethesda is punishing individual Russians for the actions of their government; a few make the longer reach that it’s also bad news for Ukraine, the presumed beneficiary of the move, because many Ukrainians also speak Russian.
Numerous game and tech companies cut ties with Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. The losses were bad enough that in July 2022 the Russian government announced plans to develop its own “national game engine (opens in new tab),” and then in December kicked around the idea of establishing a “Russian Electronic Arts (opens in new tab).”
The waters are muddied somewhat by the fact that Bethesda’s other upcoming big game, Redfall, still supports Russian. The games have different developers working on different timelines, yes, but Steam store page changes are made separately from changes to the game itself.
I’ve reached out to Bethesda to ask about the reasoning for the change, and will update if I receive a reply. Starfield is currently slated to come out on September 6.