Buckle in, because we got some setup on this one.
Two years ago, Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games released Devotion on Steam, a first-person horror title that was a spiritual follow up to the critically-liked Detention. Upon Devotion’s release, its Steam reviews were extremely positive, but slowly started shifting toward the negative in its first few days. Players discovered that a texture in the game, located on a piece of paper stuck to a wall, made fun of Chinese President Xi Jinping by comparing him to cartoon character Winnie the Pooh. Xi has historically disliked this comparison and considers it insulting, to the point where media referencing it or referencing Winnie the Pooh in general is often censored in China. Like, the literal meaning of censorship, government intervention.
When this texture was discovered, Chinese players began review-bombing the game. Devotion’s publisher, which was located in China, quickly pulled away from the game and announced that they were no longer publishing it (and a few months later, by the world’s biggest coincidence, had their business license revoked). Scrambling, Red Candle Games removed the texture, but the bad reviews kept coming so they ended up pulling the game from Steam, citing bugs and glitches. It never ended up coming back.
Today, Red Candle Games announced that the title will be sold again for the first time in two years on their own store.
We hope to provide a direct and simple purchasing channel for players who’re interested in our games. pic.twitter.com/1SxzBZSiyW
— redcandlegames (@redcandlegames) March 15, 2021
It seems to be the last possible move for Red Candle to put Devotion up for sale. While they have never explicitly said Devotion can’t come back to Steam, the fact that it’s not even though it is on sale from their own store speaks volumes. As Steam is now operating in China, it is possible Valve does not want the headache of dealing with this game on their storefront anymore.
It’s a pain familiar to CD Projekt and their GOG online store. Shortly after announcing that Devotion would be on sale on their store, the company behind Cyberpunk 2077 tweeted out that they would not be selling the game, due to “receiving many messages from gamers.” It’s an excuse that almost no one believed, but illustrates how long a shadow the game’s controversial debut and subsequent censorship casts.
It seems nearly impossible for Devotion to live up to the furor the game has caused, but for what it’s worth, it does seem like a lot of people liked the game before it was originally pulled. Now that it’s back on store shelves, if you’re down for a horror game, this might be up your alley.