The tragic tale of Red Candle’s horror game Devotion only gets sadder. Originally pulled from stores after it was discovered to contain a joking comparison between Winnie The Pooh and Chinese president (and Winnie The Pooh lookalike) Xi Jinping. Now it appears it has cost its Chinese publisher everything. As shared via Twitter by Iain Garner of Another Indie and confirmed by PCGamesN, the Chinese government has revoked the business license of the game’s Chinese publisher Indievent.
If this is the Chinese government reacting to Devotion, then it’s a very delayed effect, but plausible nonetheless. As The Guardian point out, Indievent distanced themselves from developers Red Candle shortly after the offending image (a rough note in the game) was discovered. Despite pulling it from sale and issuing an apology, Red Candle’s earlier game, Detention, was also hit by a deluge of negative and often abusive reviews. While many appear to be angry about Pooh, some appear to be angry at the studio for endangering the precarious position of Taiwan’s games industry. While legally independent, Taiwanese studios often rely on Chinese business, and a government crackdown could close off that market.
Credit to Nokzen for the trailer, now-absent from the developer’s own channel.
All of this appears borne of one man’s inability to deal with the most innocuous and soft of jokes. As reported by the Guardian, Xi Jinping has taken personal umbrage at people mentioning his similarity to the beloved honey-loving (if frequently bothered) bear. As pointed out by Kotaku, Chinese coverage of Kingdom Hearts 3 was edited to not show the ironic orange ursine, too. After seeing the term so abused over the past few years, this is a harsh reminder of what censorship really looks like; people walking on eggshells for fear of crushing government retribution.
While Devotion is still unavailable anywhere, the developer’s previous game, Detention, is 50% off in the Steam sale. An all-too-real ghost story set in 1960s Taiwan, under martial law at that time; a dangerous time and place to live.