Polish video game development studio CD Projekt Red fumbled the Ukrainian localization of its popular Cyberpunk 2077 game.
Players noted that some character dialogue, menu text, and elements of the game environment contained content considered derogatory towards Russians, as well as references to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For example, a group of bandits is called “rusnia”— an offensive term for Russians — and a character’s squatting pose is labeled “like a Russian.”
CD Projekt Red’s global PR director, Radek Grabowski, apologized via a statement to the Rock Paper Shotgun gaming website. “The release version of Ukrainian localization of Cyberpunk 2077 features elements of dialogues that can be considered offensive by Russian gamers. These lines have not been written by CD Projekt Red staff and do not represent our views. We are working to produce the correct lines and substitute them in the next update. We apologize for the situation and have made steps to avoid situations like that in the future.”
Cultural sensitivity is an important aspect of localization. CD Projekt Red’s localization management team representative Mariia Strilchuk acknowledged the mistake on X (formerly known as Twitter) by stating, “Our support to Ukraine remains unchanged, but we prefer to show it through positive actions.”
Ukrainian and Russian share about 62% of their lexicon due to the languages’ intertwined histories. Along with Belarusian and Rusyn, the two languages make up the East Slavic language family. Ukraine gained its status as an independent nation in 1991 and in the three decades since the country split from the Soviet Union, politicians in the country have played a linguistic tug-of-war. Early on in the modern state’s history, many pro-Russian politicians wanted the country to adopt Russian as a co-official language, similar to what Belarus did in 1995. Pro-Ukrainian politicians succeeded in blocking such legislation from coming into place under President Viktor Yushchenko, who was president from 2005 to 2010.