CARY – Epic Games‘ global Fortnite empire is cutting off players in Russia from the chance to win cash prizes, the news coming a day after Epic said it was “stopping commerce” with that country but not all contact in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

“We’re not blocking access for the same reason other communication tools remain online: the free world should keep all lines of dialogue open,” Cary-based Epic said.

Later, Fortnite via its blog and Twitter told the game’s global audience that no more cash was heading to Russia.

“Effective as of March 11, Russia will be added to the list of countries where players are ineligible to win cash prizes in Fortnite Competitive tournaments,” the Fortnite team said.

However, Fortnite noted: “Players residing in Russia will still be able to earn in-game cosmetic prizes.”

Epic and Fortnite did not specify reasons but did acknowledged that cash prizes ” will be frozen until Epic’s payment service provider is able to resume prizing support for players residing in Russia.”

Players in Russia can still get prizes already earned, Fortnite added.

“Players residing in Russia must complete the prize verification process for any previous tournaments and claim funds from Epic’s payment provider before March 22, 2022,” Fortnite said.

Dot esports notes that several other companies in the gaming industry have also cut off business with Russia.

Epic Games on Russia: ‘Free world should keep all lines of dialogue open’