After gamers noticed a poster that seemed to mock Xi Jinping, Dedication first ignited controversy in 2019.
Beleaguered developer CD Projekt Red pulled an award-winning Taiwanese horror game from store windows in the midst of a backlash from Chinese gamers hours after it went on sale. Devotion, a PC game depicting the life of a Taiwanese family in a religious cult in the 1980s, was released to critical acclaim in February 2019.
Chinese gamers, however, noticed a poster reading “Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh moron” shortly after its release in the apartment that serves as the setting of the game. Nearly 10,000 negative reviews quickly flooded the review page of the game. “purely an oversight”purely an oversight.
Since then, despite winning several Game of the Year awards in late 2019 and an ongoing campaign to return it for sale, it has not been available in English. Red Candle Games confirmed that it will change on Wednesday. GOG, the digital marketplace owned by Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red, will release the game on Friday, it said in a tweet at 10 a.m. A new wave of indignation from Chinese internet users followed the announcement, and CDPR reversed its decision less than six hours later. “Earlier today, it was announced that the Devotion game is coming to GOG,” the company tweeted. “After receiving many messages from players, we have decided not to list the game on our store.” It gave no further explanation and did not respond to a request for comment. GOG operates in a grey area in China, like many PC gaming companies. The service offered by the company is available in simplified Chinese and for users without a VPN.
The Chinese government, however, requires games to be approved for sale in the country – a process strictly regulated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Radio and Television Administration. By working with Chinese businesses to release their games on the mainland, larger game companies like Activision Blizzard have gotten around this necessity, while smaller storefronts like GOG have mostly been happy to fly under the radar – something that may have been threatened with the release of Devotion. This comes after a refund and an apology were given to players when the largest game of the year, Cyberpunk 2077, created by CD Projekt Red, was released to owners of current-gen consoles, including the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in a barely completed state.
In an open letter to gamers on Monday, CD Projekt Red apologized.