Taiwanese horror game pulled from sale again after backlash in China

An award-winning Taiwanese horror game was removed from storefronts by the beleaguered developer CD Projekt Red amid a backlash from Chinese gamers, hours after it was put on sale.

Devotion, a PC game that chronicles the life of a Taiwanese family in a religious cult in the 1980s, was released to critical acclaim in February 2019. But shortly after release, Chinese players found a poster hanging in the apartment that serves as the games’ setting that said “Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh moron”.

Almost 10,000 negative reviews soon flooded the game’s review page. The developer, Red Candle Games, posted an apology saying it was “purely an accident” that the poster was left in the game.

Within a week, however, the game was pulled from sale on the digital storefront Steam. It has not been available in English since, despite winning multiple game of the year awards at the end of 2019, and an ongoing campaign for it to return to sale.

On Wednesday, Red Candle Games announced that was changing. The game would be published on Friday by GOG, the digital storefront run by the Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red, it said in a tweet at 10am.

A fresh wave of opprobrium from Chinese internet users followed the announcement and less than six hours later, CDPR reversed its decision.

“Earlier today, it was announced that the game Devotion is coming to GOG,” the company tweeted. “After receiving many messages from gamers, we have decided not to list the game in our store.” It gave no further explanation and did not respond to a request for comment.

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Like many PC gaming firms, GOG operates in a grey area in China. The company’s service is available in simplified Chinese, and to users without a VPN. But the Chinese government technically requires games to be licensed for sale in the country – a process strictly controlled by the National Radio and Television Administration and Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Larger games companies such as Activision Blizzard have sidestepped the requirement by partnering with Chinese firms to release their games on the mainland, while smaller storefronts like GOG have mostly been content to fly below the radar – something with the release of Devotion may have threatened.

It comes after gamers were offered refunds and an apology when the year’s biggest game, Cyberpunk 2077, developed by CD Projekt Red, was released in a barely-finished state for owners of current-generation consoles including the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. CD Projekt Red apologised in an open letter to players on Monday.


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