The Taiwanese horror game Devotion, created by Red Candle Games, has been pulled from Steam by its creators. This is the latest in a controversy over a bit of in-game art that references the Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh meme. It all started last weekend when players found a scroll in-game that had the words “Xi Jinping” and “Winnie the Pooh” next to the word moron (all in Chinese.) This is a nod to a meme about China’s president being extremely sensitive to comparisons between him and the silly old bear. This even led to China banning the release of last year’s Christopher Robin movie.
Red Candle Games posted an apology, stating that they often use memes for placeholder images in the prototype phase and that the image has been removed in version 1.05. Their mistake caused a review bombing of both of their games (Devotion and Detention) and claiming Devotion is an allegory demonizing China as a whole (although Taiwan is considered an extension of China by China and most of the world, it has its own elected government and identity, leading to tensions between the two countries.)
Another post from the developers made a day after their first post clarified how the meme got into the game. According to the post, a single developer made the image while the rest of the team was “busy working on one’s own tasks while chasing the deadline.” They said the image doesn’t represent the views of the studio and isn’t related to Devotion’s story or themes. They did note that the controversy caused their publisher to terminate their relationship.
After yet another statement to players, which included them mentioning that the game has been pulled from Steam China, the game was pulled from Steam entirely a little after 2 PM EST yesterday. A few hours later, Red Candle Games offered an explanation for the game’s removal. According to them, they removed Devotion because of “technical issues that cause unexpected crashes.” They also mentioned that they would be reviewing “our game material once again making sure no other unintended materials was inserted in.”
If you want to support the game’s developers, Detention is still on Steam for $12. It has also been a victim of review bombing.