Game distribution platform GOG, owned by the Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red in Poland, decided not to publish the award-winning Taiwanese horror game Devotion developed by Red Candle Games in Taipei. It was only a few hours after the platform announced to re-release it which was not available for nearly two years after irritating Beijing.
GOG did not offer a clear explanation other than saying, “After receiving many messages from gamers, we have decided not to list the game in our store.”
The GOG message alleged many complaints from gamers to give up the highly demanded game. This is contrary to the various ratings in the gaming community as well as sales records, that prove the game is well-received.
Anger surged in the game community, both at the game company CD Projekt Red and the Chinese Communist regime, as manifested in the replies under the GOG announcement Tweet and rants on other platforms.
Devotion pissed off Beijing
Devotion tells a story about a Taiwanese family in the 1980s in a religious cult. It was released to critical acclaim in February 2019 but soon removed on one of the world’s largest game platforms Steam by the developer to fix “technic problems”.
As players found hidden messages on fulu talismans that said “Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh” and “you’re a moron”, thousands of Chinese players flooded in to give the game a thumb-down rating, leaving the game going from having “Overwhelmingly Positive” reviews overall to being “Mostly Negative”.
The game was initially taken down on Steam in mainland China, then in regions all over the world, and has been unavailable to players ever since. This did not change even after the message was replaced with “happy new year”.
Two other publishers cut ties with Red Candle Games, with Red Candle Games being liable for their losses (source). The Sina Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter within the Great Firewall) soon banned the account of the game company and discussions on related topics.
Possible reason that GOG gave up Devotion
As The Guardian explained in a story, “Like many PC gaming firms, GOG operates in a grey area in China. The company’s service is available in simplified Chinese, and to users without a VPN. But the Chinese government technically requires games to be licensed for sale in the country – a process strictly controlled by the National Radio and Television Administration as well as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.”
GOG is possibly trying hard to avoid pissing off Beijing fearing the totalitarian regime would block the platform with the Great Firewall and even ban its newly released game Cyberpunk 2077.
The CCP is known for controlling the world with its economic leverage. Fearing losing the vast Chinese market, foreign companies generally comply with CCP’s wills, as evidenced by Hollywood’s self-censorship in recent years.
Similar to the cinema industry, the game industry would be no different. GOG’s explanation is probably about “receiving many messages from” Beijing actors instead of normal gamers.
After hitting another shut door, Red Candle Games vowed to keep fighting to get the game released again.
Even if the game is allowed to re-surface, it seems impossible for it to expand outside of the Taiwan island as long as Xi Jinping and his party the CCP continue to control the world with their long economic and political hands. Beijing does not even need to issue a statement, any platform would flinch to avoid wrath from the CCP.
Author: River|Himalaya Scholars
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