Controversial Taiwan horror game Devotion not slated for re-release

Game target of backlash in China due to ‘error’ mocking Xi

Horror game 'Devotion' (Red Candles photo)

Horror game 'Devotion' (Red Candles photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Taiwan-based developer of a popular but contentious horror game that sparked an outcry among Chinese netizens, leading to its removal from the Steam platform earlier this year, has decided not to re-release the game in the near future.

“Devotion” (還願), a game developed by Red Candle Games (赤燭), took the online gaming community by storm soon after it was released Feb. 19. The game is a first-person horror mystery that incorporates chilling elements of Taiwanese folklore while employing a nostalgic setting to build up unsettling tension.

It provoked a backlash in China after a Taoist talisman in one part of the game was found to be bearing the words “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh” (習近平小熊維尼) in an ancient style of Chinese writing, apparently with the aim of disparaging the Chinese leader. References to Winnie the Pooh, which have been used in memes mocking Xi, have been banned in China.

Red Candle Games moved quickly to address the issue, apologizing for what it called an inadvertent mistake and “a malfunction of project management.” The company later released an update for the game, but continued calls for a boycott ultimately prompted the developer to take the game off the shelves on Feb. 26.

In a Facebook statement on Monday (July 15), Red Candle Games announced it would not re-release “Devotion” anytime soon, or seek to profit from it in any way, so as to “prevent unnecessary misconceptions.” The announcement comes two weeks after the game’s Chinese publisher, Indievent, was stripped of its business license for “intentions to jeopardize national security and public interest for society,” reported TechNews.

The developer expressed regret over the relentless speculation about “Devotion” and felt saddened by the fact that “the focus of the game has shifted drastically since the erroneous art asset was found.” Despite the incident, Red Candle Games said in its statement that it would continue to dedicate itself to creating games.

Horror game Devotion (CNA photo)

Taoist talisman reading "Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh" in Chinese (Devotion screenshot)