Taiwanese video game pulled from platform amid Chinese boycott

TAIPEI (CNA) – A Taiwan-developed horror video game being boycotted by Chinese netizens over an image mocking Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) was removed from global digital distribution platform Stream on today just seven days after its release.

In a post on its Facebook page, the game’s Taiwanese developer, Red Candle Games, said it pulled “Devotion” (還願) from Steam because of technical problems and also alluded to the boycott caused by the artwork that angered Chinese users.

“Due to technical issues that cause unexpected crashes, we are pulling off from steam store to have another complete QA (quality assurance) check,” the company said in an English-language statement.

“At the same time we’d like to take this opportunity to ease the heightened pressure in our community resulting from our previous Art Material Incident. Our team would also review our game material once again making sure no other unintended materials was inserted in,” Red Candle Games said.

“Hopefully this would help all audience to focus on the game itself again upon its return,” it said.

Horror riddle-solving game Devotion, Red Candle Games developed for Steam, was released on Feb. 19 but soon was faced with a boycott by Chinese users, creating a controversy that has been played up in Taiwanese media.

Even Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) chimed in, defending the game and criticizing China for its censorship and control of all media.

“Only in countries with democracy and freedom can creation be free from restrictions,” Chen said.

A screenshot of a charm amulet hanging on the wall of a room in the game angered Chinese netizens on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, after it was noticed that the names of Xi and Winnie-the-Pooh were written on the amulet in red.

The reference was unrelated to any aspect of the game.

The Winnie the Pooh character has been used to mock Xi since a picture of the Chinese leader walking with then U.S. President Barack Obama in 2013 spurred comparisons to Winnie the Pooh walking with Tigger.

On Monday, Red Candle Games issued a statement urging users to calm down and direct their attention to the game itself and to not harm the “innocent partners” that are working with Red Candle Games to promote “Devotion.” Red Candle Games said then that it needed some time to work through the problem with its business partners.

By Han Ting-ting, Elizabeth Hsu, and Frances Huang