Factorio (opens in a new tab) Developer Wube Software is facing a fierce backlash from Russian gamers after suddenly and dramatically increasing the price of the game on Steam in Russia. Rising prices led to a flood of hundreds of negative user reviews (opens in a new tab)and while the overall rating remains “overwhelmingly positive”, the current rating is “mixed”, with just over half of user reviews posted in the last 30 days being positive.
As shown by SteamDB (opens in a new tab), Factorio’s price in Russia had remained stable at ₽520 ($9) since Factorio’s launch in 2020. On July 14, however, it jumped to ₽10,000, or over $174. It’s a hellish price for an indie game on Steam in any country, and it came with no word from the developer on why the increase happened, or even an acknowledgment that it happened.
As expected, this led to confusion. Some followers assumed it was a mistake – that someone at Wube smashed the “0” button one too many times while trying to raise the price to a much more reasonable ₽1,000. Others, however, took it as a sign that the studio was making a statement about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The customer reviews chart tells the story:
“Yesterday they changed the price from 500 rubles ~ 9 USD to 10,000 rubles ~ 170 USD. And didn’t give any reason (okay, we all understand it’s because of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict)” , wrote a Steam reviewer. “I don’t understand why regular players have to pay too much because of the political position of the developers. They literally say: Hey, are you Russian? Then you will pay 20 times more for our product. I think it’s called du racism.”
“Bringing politics into the gaming world is the worst thing developers can do and should be ashamed of themselves,” another wrote. “I’ve always tried to bring more friends to this amazing game, basically bringing money to the developers to let them thrive, but to see this dastardly move on their part is just disgusting.”
To some extent, this reaction is understandable. Wube Software, which is based in the Czech Republic, previously expressed its unambiguous support for Ukraine against Russia with a message that included a photograph from the Czech National Museum. (opens in a new tab)“which has bullet scars from the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.”
At the same time, it seems unlikely to me that the studio will significantly increase the price of Factorio in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine without making a statement about it. Wube Software has already spoken out against the invasion, so why wouldn’t it also go public on this action, if that was the intention behind it?
The day after the price hike, Factorio’s Russian price was reduced to ₽1,000 ($18), which is just double its previous price, not a 20x increase. And $18 is only about half the price paid by US customers. It’s possible the devs are trying to quietly undo a political stunt gone wrong (and some in the Steam forums clearly have that opinion), but I think it more likely points to a simple mistake on Wube’s part in trying to implement a more reasonable increase. . The US price actually dropped from $20 to $30 in 2018, after two years of early access, while the Russian price remained unchanged until this week. Regional prices in other countries also rose on July 14, but obviously not to the extent seen in Russia.
Wube Software has yet to publicly comment on the price changes, so for now we’re still guessing what’s really going on. I have contacted the studio for more information and will update if I receive a response.