Guilty Gear Strive mod restores references to Taiwan, Tibet, and Uyghurs

Guilty Gear Strive
(Image credit: Arc System Works)

Shortly after the release of the 2D fighting game Guilty Gear Strive, it was patched to remove lore entry references to Taiwan, Tibet, Uyghur, and other regions. There was no mention of the change in any patch notes and neither developer Arc System Works nor publisher Bandai Namco provided an explanation, but it was widely assumed that it came about in order to ensure the game didn't fall afoul of Chinese censors.

In lore terms, it was a relatively minor change to just two sentences, but the perceived acquiescence to pressure from China sparked a backlash, and now a "decensor" mod that brings back the removed content. The mod, available at Gamebanana, "restores the original Log 311 in GG-World's glossary, which restores mentions of Uighur, Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia relating to the Chinese government, which was silently censored in a game patch."

It's not at all surprising that the references to Taiwan, Tibet, and the rest were cut. China's massive audience of gamers is a lucrative market, but also a tricky one to navigate due to its complex, occasionally arbitrary content regulations. Content restrictions are not uncommon—Genshin Impact has a chat filter that automatically removes mention of Taiwan and Hong Kong—and even the mighty behemoth of Steam is localized (and tightly restricted) for the Chinese market.

Games that violate the rules, even in seemingly harmless ways, can find themselves shut out completely: The cult horror game Devotion was removed from Steam in 2019 because of a Winnie the Pooh image perceived as mocking president Xi Jinping, and wasn't allowed back for two full years—a fate that Arc System Works is no doubt eager to avoid.

The existence of the mod could potentially complicate that situation, but the reaction to it on the r/pcgaming subreddit is generally positive overall. That presumably reflects longstanding gamer frustration with the willingness of Chinese authorities to clamp down on speech it finds objectionable—smaller in scale but still similar to the backlash that followed the punishment of Hearthstone grandmaster Chung "blitzchung" Ng Wai in 2019 following his call for the liberation of Hong Kong.

It's also interesting to see mods being used to restore content that developers would rather see gone: The Guilty Gear Strive Decensor mod comes less than a week after the release of a Mass Effect Legendary Edition mod that restores the game's infamous butt shots.

I've reached out to Bandai Namco for comment, and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.