Red Candle Games, the Taiwanese developers of horror game Devotion, found themselves in hot water after the release of their game in February of this year. Published by Chinese company Indievent, a poster in the game criticising Chinese President XI was spotted by Chinese nationalists, who then flooded the game’s Steam page with negative reviews and caused the game too be pulled from Steam shortly after its release in February.
The developers went silent for several months, despite having made changes and apologised in the immediate wake of the incident, but it was then discovered earlier this month that publisher Indievent had seen its business license revoked. While this incident was not mentioned, it was almost certainly a contributing factor.
Now Red Candle have returned to Twitter to issue a statement and shoulder the blame for the incident. Within they note that the game will not be re-released in the near term future and that they are not taking any profits from the game during its short time on sale, with the hope that those who objected to the game’s unintentional use of a politically charged poster can eventually see the game in its original light.
We are Red Candle Games from Taiwan. To all our players, industry and media friends, we would like to provide an update on ‘Devotion’.
(1) For the past four months, the art asset incident related to ‘Devotion’ has caused immeasurable harm to Red Candle Games and our partner. We would like to offer our most sincere apology to all impacted teams and personnel. Red Candle and its partner are assuming all responsibilities for the losses; we will not stop in ouor endeavor to prevent the damage from worsening.
(2) This incident has significantly and adversely impacted all parties. Our partner has been making every effort to assist Red Candle. While mediation is still in progress, Red Candle’s co-founders have reached a unanimous decision not to re-release ‘Devotion’ in the near term, including but not limited to obtaining profit from sales, revision, IP authorization, etc. to prevent unnecessary misconception.
(3) As we reflect of the situation, we notice many players, industry friends, and the media are starting to understand that the incident was indeed a malfunction of project management, not a deliberate act. If, in the future, the public would be willing to view this game rationally and allow us the opportunity to rebuild trust with our players, Red Candle would reconsider re-releasing ‘Devotion’.
As such, we want to apologize to the players for the wait. We are truly sorry, but please understand our decision.
Red Candle is grateful that our partner entrusted us withuot reservation during the game’s development in the past two years. Regrettably, we failed to meet their expectations and caused them to suffer undue hardship. As the game’s sole developer, Red Candle is inexcusable for this incident. We hope that our partner and related parties may be excused from further criticism.
Since Red Candle Games establishment in 2015, we have dedicated oourselves to craft the best gaming experience for our audience worldwide. In ‘Devotion’, its core message is about “the tragedy of a loving family twisted by the frantic belief of a relifious cult.”
We made a critical and unprofessional error during the game’s production. It saddens us that the focus of the game has shifted drastically since the erroneous art asset was found. A revision patch was implemented immediately as we have absolutely no intent to stage a publicity stunt.
However, in the aftermath of the incident, some still possess different speculations about ‘Devotion’. As regretful as the incident was, we have to bare its full consequence. We hope for a second chance in the near future. A chance to prove that, both Red Candle and its partner simply wanted to create a great game and no on wished for such incident to occur.
Rest assured, Red Candle Games will continue its passion to creativity as a game company.
Thank you for your invaluable support.
Red Candle Games
While the order removing Indievent’s business license does not specifically mention the incident, it sends a very strong message that China will not accept criticism in the local media, especially not if it involves President Xi and Winnie the Pooh. Video games are strictly monitored, unable to show certain kinds of violence and with China naturally favouring locally created media. 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.
While it’s good to hear from Red Candle, the fact that they needed to remove the game from sale after their apologies and original changes is, quite frankly, ridiculous. In the West, these kinds of errors happen all the time, whether it’s EA apologise for naming purchasable Axis officer skin after a German resistance fighter in Battlefield V, THQ having to apologise for hosting an AMA on 8chan, and countless other things. Put in that perspective, including a fairly tame political poster in a game (intentionally or otherwise) would barely warrant a mention.