GOG has backtracked on their agreement to sell the indie-horror title Devotion, which was previously pulled from sale following the discovery of an in-game easter egg mocking Chinese President Xi Jiping, mere hours after the video game distribution platform announced that they would make the game available for purchase.
Based heavily on traditional Taiwanese folklore and mythology, Devotion is a first-person psychological horror game in which players control screenwriter Du Feng Yu as he explores a 1980s Taipei apartment complex whose units consist of individual moments taken from throughout the Du family’s history.
Originally released on February 19th, 2019, Devotion was quickly banned in China after it was discovered that the game contained a Fulu talisman that appeared to mock Chinese President Xi Jiping.
According to Spieltimes, citing a post from ResetERA, the talisman reads “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh Moron” and is “a curse spell that is considered very evil in traditional Chinese culture. It’s the Chinese equivalent of having a stabbed voodoo doll.”
“The red seal in the centre of the poster reads “Xi Jinping” on the right, and “Winnie the Pooh” on the left,” the news outlet further explained. “The four corners of the Fulu talisman reads “Your (mom moron)” in Taiwanese dialect.”
Following backlash from Chinese players, developers Red Candle Games removed Devotion from global storefronts in order to fix the game’s technical issues and ensure that it contained no further hidden messages.
Unfortunately, this temporary removal turned into an indefinite one in July 2019, when Red Candle Games announced that the studio’s “co-founders have reached a unanimous decision to not re-release ‘Devotion’ in the near term [in order] to prevent unnecessary misconception” and apologized for having “made a critical and unprofessional error during the game’s production.”
Fast forward to December 16th, 2020, when after more than a year of Devotion being unable for sale across the world (save for a special week of physical pre-orders for the Taiwan region), Red Candle Games made public their plan to “publish #還願Devotion on Dec 18 on GOG.”
However, just a little over five hours after Red Candle Games’ announcement, the CD Projekt-owned GOG suddenly backtracked on their agreement to sell Devotion through their platform, claiming that a significant of “gamers” had asked them to reverse their initial decision.
“After receiving many messages from gamers,” wrote GOG, “we have decided not to list the game in our store.”
Unfortunately for CD Projekt and GOG, audiences near universally rejected the company’s flimsy explanation, with many speculating that the removal was actually done in order to appease either China’s government, players, or both.
“At least you could be honest with us,” wrote @CalemAnnk. “You should know that we are not stupid enough to believe your statement without looking into the game and finding lots of articles as to why ‘gamers’ would oppose it.”
@Yuxola asserted that GOG “didn’t get messages from gamers,” but rather “got messages from the Chinese communist party cultists.”
“Just say you’re bending over for china, don’t pretend the reason is something else,” they added.
In the most succinct and accurate summation of player opinion toward the situation, @alexdnz informed GOG, “Literally nobody believes this.”
In response to the renewed controversy surrounding Devotion, Red Candle Games explained on Twitter that, “though regretful[,] we are willing to understand and respect GOG’s decision.”
The developer also apologized to “the players looking forward to Devotion’s re-release” and assured them that, while “this is a difficult predicament to overcome,” they would not “stop striving”.
As of writing, alternate release plans for Devotion have not been announced.
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