Online game store GOG.com reversed its decision to offer a Taiwanese horror video game for sale after suffering severe backlash from netizens, possibly from China.
Poster in game took shots at Chinese President Xi
The game, titled Devotion, is a psychological horror game. Similar to Konami's legendary Silent Hill series, it was critically-acclaimed upon its release in February 2019.
However, gamers discovered that a poster in the apartment building, which serves as the game's setting, read, "Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh moron."
Winnie the Pooh is a highly sensitive character in China, especially if it is used to make references to its president.
Game taken off Steam platform even outside of China due to continued backlash
Chinese gamers took offence and review-bombed the game on Steam, an online platform which sells video games.
Over 10,000 negative reviews were recorded. Chinese distributors stopped selling the game, and the Weibo account of Red Candle, the studio that developed the game, was also closed. The game was also taken off Steam in China.
Red Candle apologised, stating that the poster was a placeholder asset that was accidentally included in the final release.
However, according to Eurogamer, the backlash continued, and Red Candle then removed the game from Steam entirely.
GOG reverses decision to offer game within hours
On Dec. 16, 2020, Red Candle announced that Devotion would be available for sale on GOG.com.
Hello friends, we want to share with you– Red Candle will publish #還願Devotion on Dec 18 on GOG.https://t.co/dlC6qzBiHx— redcandlegames (@redcandlegames) December 16, 2020
The content and the price of the re-release remains the same, for $16.99 / €13.99
Thank you for your trust and support. We wish you a happy end of the year pic.twitter.com/peVPd7cyVo
However, in about six hours, GOG announced that it would not be offering the game after all, after "receiving many messages."
Earlier today, it was announced that the game Devotion is coming to GOG. After receiving many messages from gamers, we have decided not to list the game in our store.— GOG.COM (@GOGcom) December 16, 2020
This announcement was met with surprise and incredulity from several netizens, some of whom speculated that the decision was due to political considerations.
There is no way you're not putting it on the store because of the opinion of gamers. They can just choose not to buy that game. Who cares if a game they don't want to play is simply on the platform?— Mah-Dry-Bread - Medraut Stowe (@MahDryBread) December 16, 2020
You just don't want the platform pulled from China.
Whatever the reason, the game is neither available on Steam or GOG, and Red Candle issued an apology.
GOG is run by CD Projekt Red, the developer of the much-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 game.
That game has also been met with controversy, with bugs affecting gameplay reported by gamers soon after release.
According to Game Rant, PlayStation has removed the game from digital purchase on the PlayStation Store.
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Top image from Charles Chang and Red Candle Twitter.