Earlier this week the International Olympic Committee announced Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Despite that news, Russia is going to remain in the winter sports sim Steep Road to the Olympics, at least for now.
Road to the Olympics is a new expansion to the 2016 winter sports game Steep, and one of only two official 2018 Olympic games (the other is another of the biennial Mario and Sonic Olympics competitions). Road to the Olympics was released on December 5, the same day the IOC announced Russia had been banned due to its role in an elaborate doping scheme. While Russian athletes who pass drug tests and get final approval from an IOC panel will be allowed to compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia,” they wouldn’t be accompanied by their national anthem and flag or wear the nation’s team uniform.
This is especially interesting given the game’s expansion is based around Olympic qualifying and lets you choose which country your fictional athlete will represent on their journey to qualifying for the Winter Olympics 2018 and becoming “a legend.” The whole point of the IOC banning Russia in the first place is to punish them for cheating, so taking out any references wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise given Road to the Olympics is officially licensed.
“There are no existing plans to patch Russia out of Steep Road to the Olympics,” a Ubisoft spokesperson said in an email when asked about the matter. Sports games push out updates to keep up with or respond to real world events all the time like adding player stats as football or soccer season progresses. In extreme instances, players have even been removed from a sports game altogether. EA scrubbed Adam Johnson from FIFA 2016 after he was convicted for sexual activity with a 15-year old.
Some Russian athletes, including snowboarder Nikita Avtaneev, still plan on trying to participate in next February’s games anyway. Others such as cross-country skier Alexander Legkov and skeleton slider Aleksandr Tretyakov were already banned prior to Tuesday’s announcement due to the doping scandal.
Throughout the game’s “become a legend” story campaign, former Olympic medalists like Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn or freestyle skier Kevin Rolland impart wisdom to the player. Russian was never much a part of the predominantly French-developed game’s marketing campaign. Even today’s post about Steep‘s expansion over at the official Olympics website mostly sites American and French athletes (and of course no Russian ones).