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GOG caves to Chinese pressure, refuses to sell Devotion following "gamer" backlash

(Image Credit: Red Candle Games) 習近平小熊維尼
(Image Credit: Red Candle Games) 習近平小熊維尼
Izaak
ANALYST
Modified 17 Dec 2020, 04:08 IST
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GOG announced that they would begin selling a game called Devotion, a controversial game made by the Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games, which was pulled from Steam following the discovery that it had an easter egg comparing Chinese President Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh.

Shortly after making the announcement, GOG rescinded their intention to sell the game, stating that they received “many messages from gamers.” However, given the nature of the controversy it’s likely that much more is going on.

What is Devotion?

Devotion is a first person horror game where players assume the role of a Taiwanese father who is attempting to care for his sickly daughter. In order to attempt to cure her, he becomes enamored with a local cult and begins a religious ritual during which he must isolate her while he prepares some kind of potion that is expected to save her.

During the course of the game, the father endures flashbacks which reveal why his wife left, what he used to do for work, and how his relationship with his daughter developed. One key recurring element in the game is the father’s absolute devotion to his daughter’s one stage performance, performed via FMV.

The way watches his daughter’s performance, represented by a real actress on screen, is juxtaposed against the way he views his daughter in game, represented by a lifeless doll. The game mixes a great horror aesthetic with a deeply emotional story that makes for a compelling and thrilling horror experience.

Why was Devotion delisted from Steam?

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Devotion was initially sold on steam, but eventually pulled after players discovered an easter egg which compared the Chinese President to Winnie the Pooh, a comparison which had been used to criticize and humiliate President Xi, especially by protestors in Hong Kong.

This comparison infuriated Xi Jinping enough that his administration eventually began pulling any references to Winnie the Pooh from the Chinese intranet.

One of these references was found in Devotion as the text “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh” was found in the game, written in an old Chinese script (google the Chinese text 習近平小熊維尼 for a laugh).

This led to Chinese reviewers review bombing the game on Steam, dropping its score to “Mostly Negative,” which ultimately resulted in the game being pulled from Steam altogether.

Despite Devotion being an amazing and unique game soaked in Taiwanese culture and mythos, the game can not be purchased anywhere.

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GOG pulls Devotion shortly after announcement

GOG announced that they decided to cancel their efforts to list the game following “gamer” backlash. Needless to say, no one seems to believe that this supposed backlash was anything less than a coordinated attempt by Chinese authorities to protect their president.

This decision has led to a whole new kind of backlash, as many gamers are now upset to see that a western owned company like GOG is caving to pressure from China.

GOG, which is owned by CD Projekt Red, is based in Poland, and should, in theory, not care one way or the other about a reference to the President of China.

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This decision on behalf of GOG has led to another indie developer, Glass Bottom Games, deciding not to list their charming indie game about skateboarding birds on GOG. Other gamers and content creators have decided to use their own freedoms to post the very memes which resulted in Devotion being pulled to begin with.

Published 17 Dec 2020, 04:08 IST
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