Yesterday we reported that Devotion, a cult horror title from Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games, would be re-released on GOG after being unavailable for nearly two years. A few hours after this announcement was made GOG, owned by CD Projekt, unceremoniously dumped the game via the below tweet.
Earlier today, it was announced that the game Devotion is coming to GOG. After receiving many messages from gamers, we have decided not to list the game in our store.December 16, 2020
This has gone down in the west like a cup of cold sick, with the above tweet receiving a rather brutal shoeing and at least one developer pulling their game from GOG in protest. While the "many messages from gamers" seems a ridiculous phrase, and there's little evidence of any adverse reaction on western-centric media, the original controversy over the game was largely fuelled by users on the Chinese social platform Weibo. The hashtag relating to the game (#还愿#) has huge historical engagement figures, and the point I'm making is that, just because the "many messages" aren't immediately visible to us doesn't mean they don't exist: some conspiracists seem to think the Chinese Communist Party is involved but, as the Monster Hunter movie recently showed, there is a large and vociferous Chinese audience ready to jump on anything percieved as anti-China without prompting.
PCG has contacted GOG to ask for further details on the decision not to list Devotion, and will update with any response. The game's developer, Red Candle Games, has now responded to this latest setback.
pic.twitter.com/SKI3SeW18sDecember 17, 2020
"Though regretful but we are willing to understand and respect GOG's decision," reads the statement. "For the players looking forward to Devotion's re-release, please accept our most sincere apology. This is a difficult predicament to overcome, but we won't stop striving."
Full marks to Red Candle Games for its restraint, though the way ahead now is unclear. Itch.io may be one route. Some have suggested the Epic Games Store, but given that Epic itself is just under half-owned by the Chinese media giant Tencent that seems unlikely.
It's worth ending on an important point here: the joke that caused such offense is no longer in the game, and hasn't been for years. The pursuit of Devotion and its developers in this way is no longer about the game's content: it's just about stopping it being sold anywhere because it once had something in that the Chinese audience didn't like. It's almost unbearably petty. Red Candle's excellent Detention remains available on Steam, should you wish to support a developer that could use it.