Winnie the Pooh’s a lovely bear, isn’t he? Just going on mild-mannered and whimsical little adventures with his friends. So what could he possibly have done to cause Chinese publisher Indievent to lose its business license?
Well, some think he looks a bit like Chinese President Xi Jinping leading to more than a few comparisons and mocking memes, and while lampooning and mocking politicians is basically par for the course in the West, in China it’s deeply frowned upon and can have some major repercussions. Since 2007, the country has simply banned the character. For Indievent, their business license has been revoked, which is suspected to be for their involvement with Taiwanese horror game Devotion, which referenced the Winnie the Pooh memes.
The Chinese publishers of Devotion (the horror game that had anti-Xi artwork in it) have had their business license revoked. pic.twitter.com/LIAJFOmdTF
— Iain Garner – Buy Our Games (@memnoch87) July 1, 2019
A poster in the game reads “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh moron”, and this was spotted by Chinese nationalists who then flooded the game’s Steam page with negative reviews. While developer Red Candle Games have apologised for the poster, saying it was accidental and would be replaced, the Chinese government have taken action against the publisher. The game was pulled from Steam shortly after its release in February, and Red Candle haven’t tweeted since the game’s release in February.
While Indievent were quick to try and disassociate themselves from Red Candle and the order does not specifically mention the incident, it’s pretty safe to say that it will at least have been a contributing factor. This will send a very strong message through an already shaky industry in the region. Video games are strictly monitored, unable to show certain kinds of violence and with China naturally favouring their own. It’s seen content changes made to Rainbow Six Siege to get it past the censors, though these were eventually rolled back, the incredibly popular PUBG mobile release was unable to get a monetisation license, so it was replaced by the more patriotic Game for Peace, Twitch has just been outright blocked, and so on.