Blockchain Gaming Giant Animoca Brands Halts Services to Russian Users

The move comes as Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov urged cryptocurrency exchanges to block addresses belonging to Russian users


Animoca Brands co-founder Yat Siu | Source: Animoca Brands


key takeaways

  • The gaming and metaverse giant said it wanted to avoid being “financially excluded” for fear of being associated with a sanctioned country
  • It is unclear whether the company will block purchases of SAND, the utility token used within a metaverse produced by The Sandbox, Animoca’s subsidiary

Blockchain and metaverse gaming giant Animoca Brands decidedly cut ties with its Russian users on Tuesday, citing sanctions by Western powers over the Ukrainian invasion as justification.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Animoca will no longer provide its services to customers belonging to the former Soviet power by blocking users and restricting access to its shares.

The move comes as Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, urged cryptocurrency exchanges in a tweet Sunday morning to block addresses belonging to Russian users.

Crypto businesses have been weighing up a decision to follow through on the minister’s request, though most have reportedly decided not to pursue such measures. Animoca, by contrast, has become one of the few in the industry to comply.

It is unclear whether the company will attempt to block purchases of SAND, the utility token used within a metaverse produced by Animoca’s subsidiary The Sandbox. Animoca did not immediately respond to Blockworks’ request for comment.

On Feb. 24, Russian troops were ordered to cross into Ukrainian territory by President Vladimir Putin following weeks of US intelligence warnings. The invasion was swiftly condemned by most of the Western world which also moved to sanction major Russian banks, oligarchs and businesses.

Sanctions extended to Russian financial institutions’ use of the SWIFT interbank settlement system, hindering their ability to operate effectively within the global financial system.

In an interview with Bloomberg and cited in the report, Animoca co-founder Yat Siu said the company’s decision would likely affect subsidiaries such as Gamee and blockchain fitness company Lympo, although — given the low population of Russian users — it was unlikely the impact will be substantial.

“The legal advice we’ve been receiving is we now have to impose some restrictions,” said Siu. “It’s a sanctioned country on par with North Korea. The moment we end up doing business in those areas, we might ourselves become financially excluded from the financial system.”

Hong Kong-based Animoca was founded in 2011 with a focus on developing and publishing mobile games and applications. The company, which has since branched out to blockchain and artificial intelligence, has raised a total of $627.7 million in funding, according to data provider Pitchbook.

The company received $358.89 million of development capital in January via Liberty City Ventures, Delta Blockchain Fund and 10T Holdings, among others, boosting the company’s pre-money valuation to $5.44 billion.

That, in turn, had doubled from a $267.8 million private equity deal in October where Animoca was valued at $2.2 billion.

Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

Explore the growing intersection between crypto, macroeconomics, policy and finance with Ben Strack, Casey Wagner and Felix Jauvin. Subscribe to the On the Margin newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.


Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2024

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Unlocked by Template.png


With the spot ETH ETF approval, the institutions are coming. stETH - given its dominance in marketshare, existing liquid market structures, and highly desirable properties - is poised for institutions.


Launching cryptocurrencies the old fashioned way may soon make a return


Kraken and CertiK brought their beef to social media after Kraken said researchers exploited $3 million through a bug


NVIDIA’s historic run is only deepening the divide between mega-cap tech stocks and the rest of the market.


EIP-7702 was quickly adopted for the next Ethereum upgrade, but developers haven’t quite locked it down