Taiwanese developer, Red Candle Games, the makers of the highly popular Detention and the recently released Devotion, have come under fire for art that was featured in Devotion that portrayed a parody of Chinese president Xi Jinping as a cultist leader and called him “Winnie The Pooh Moron’.
As reported by Spieltimes.com, both Detention and Devotion got hit with massive negative review marks from angry Chinese gamers who began review bombing all of the developer’s products on Steam.
The review bombing started on February 22nd, 2019, just a few days after Devotion was released on Steam.
It took the Chinese gamers a couple of days before they came across an Easter egg in the game that featured an image that allegedly denigrated Xi Jinping. It was broadcast through the community as walkthroughs and Let’s Play videos started popping up.
Unfortunately the video that highlighted the image is no longer available for viewing.
The pushback from Chinese gamers was met with a swift response. On February 23rd, 2019 Red Candle Games made a post on the Steam community section claiming that the art in the game mocking Xi Jinping and calling him a “Winnie the Pooh moron” (which is a reference to the fact that Winnie the Pooh is banned in China after people began making memes comparing Jingping to Winnie the Pooh, as covered by Joe.ie) was unintentional. They claimed that the art was just placeholder art and not something implemented into the game by the development team.
The team wrote…
“When making the prototype, the team often referred to the then known internet slang as placeholder. However, due to the version synchronizing problem, not all of the placeholders were deleted properly. This is purely an accident, and we have no intention for causing harm nor hatred. The said art material has been taken down and replaced at the evening of February 21. “
This answer was met with a lot of furious Chinese gamers who felt as if the developers were trying to undermine Chinese culture.
There were more than 643 pages worth of comments from Chinese gamers as of the writing of this article accrued within the span of a day, many of whom were discussing the issue. A lot of it broke down into arguments about Taiwan versus China, and Japan versus China, and whether or not what the developer did was worth forgiving.
To quell some of the outrage, Red Candle Games had to make a follow-up post later on in the day to explain that they meant no ill will toward Chinese gamers or Chinese culture. The team issued a second, more comprehensive apology, led by Vincent Yang, who wrote…
“In the light of the art material incident today, on behalf of Red Candle Games, we apologize to our players. We have failed your trust and love towards Red Candle Games.
“Earlier, in order to clarify the situation with you all in the first place, we released a short statement hastily. But clearly, we still owe you all a comprehensive explanation.
“During the early development period, one of Red Candle’s member placed the sensitive words into an art material. When the art material was made, each teammate was busy working on one’s own tasks while chasing the deadline. None of the other colleagues were aware of this. It was until we received a private report made by a player on February 21 that we realized what was exactly written on that art material. Upon learning of this, we immediately replaced the art material within an hour.
“The words written on the art material does not stand for Red Candle Games’ stance, nor is it in any ways related to Devotion’s story and theme. However, even if this was caused by an individual behavior, as a whole, it is Red Candle Games’ responsibility. For the players, streamers and media friends, we are deeply sorry that we hurt your feelings. After all, if it were not for your support, Red Candle Games wouldn’t have gone so far, let along the release of Detention and Devotion. The last thing we want is to fail your trust. This is not what we visioned for, but unfortunately the damage has been made. For that, we take full responsibility. We deeply regret and are awfully sorry for the sensitive art material, and that when the incident first came out, we failed to put ourselves into your position.”
The second half of the apology just begged for forgiveness again and apologized for hurting the feelings of media outlets, streamers, and gamers.
Despite all of the apologies, it wasn’t enough to stave off a termination with their Chinese publisher Indievent.
According to What’s On Weibo, Indievent issued an apology to Chinese gamers and broke ties with Red Candle Games. The site is also reporting that the game has been removed from being accessed by mainland China on Steam, although the international version is still available on the Steam store.
You can still pick up a digital copy of the psychological horror game, Devotion, from the Steam store for $16.99.
(Thanks for the news tip VLOCKUP)