CD Projekt storefront GOG heel turns over release of Devotion, after “many messages from gamers”

CD Projekt are in the headlines once again, but this time it’s not the company’s CD Projekt Red development studio and the calamitous release of Cyberpunk 2077, but rather their digital storefront GOG.com that’s getting them a bad rep.

Just hours after Red Candle Games announced that horror game Devotion would be released on GOG.com, the online store has changed their mind, citing “many messages from gamers”. Digging into the game’s troubled history, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is GOG bowing to pressure, either from the Chinese government, Chinese gamers, or a combination of the two.

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Devotion was first released in 2019, with Taiwanese developer Red Candle having their game published by Chinese publisher Indievent. Unfortunately, it was rather short-lived as the game was pulled from Steam shortly after its release in February, and the Chinese government decided to remove Indievent’s business license. What could they have possibly done that was so bad that the government shut them down?

Well, the game featured a poster that compared Chinese President Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh, a comparison that he seems to be rather self conscious about, and calling him a moron. It’s a political meme that is censored in China.

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in the immediate wake of the incident, but it was then discovered in July last year that Indievent’s business license was revoked, though the incident was not mentioned as a reason (though we’re 99.9999999% certain that it was). Red Candle returned to Twitter to issue a statement and shoulder the blame for the incident. They noted that the game would not be re-released in the near term future and that they were 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.

The re-release (obviously without any posters demeaning Winnie the Pooh’s good reputation), was announced this morning, and then summarily cancelled a little over five hours later by GOG.com. While it might have been a move intended to appease any audience they have in China (which is a huge and growing market for video games), it’s backfiring in the western world. It’s certainly not a very cyberpunk of them to do so, anyway.

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