The unsettling saga of Devotion has taken another grim turn this week. The psychological horror title was becoming a hit online when it was released back in February of this year, but when players found a popular meme on a scroll featured in the game that seemingly said ‘Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh Moron’, Devotion was removed from Steam. The satirical meme is a reference to China’s banning of the Winnie The Pooh movie after comparisons were made between Pooh and Chinese president Xi Jinping.
But things got even worse for Devotion developers Red Candle Games when their publisher Indievent abandoned them over the incident, which didn’t stop the Chinese government subsequently revoking their business license.
Now, Red Candle Games have released a statement to say that there are no plans to re-release Devotion.
“While mediation is still in progress, Red Candle’s co-founders have reached a unanimous decision to not re-release Devotion in the near term, including but not limited to obtaining profit from sales, revision, IP authorization, etc. to prevent unnecessary misconception,” the developer said in a statement on Twitter. “As we reflect on 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.”
The ‘malfunction’ in Red Candle Games’ statement refers to their insistence that the meme was never supposed to make it into the final version of Devotion, and that it was placeholder art chucked in there by someone on the team. They even removed the meme in a patch at one point, but continued to be inundated with negative comments on Steam and elsewhere.
“In Devotion, its core message is about the tragedy of a loving family twisted by the frantic belief of a religious cult,” the studio said. “We made a critical and unprofessional error during the game’s production. It saddens us that the focus of the game was shifted drastically since the erroneous art asset was found…In the aftermath of the incident, some still possess different speculations about Devotion.
“As regretful as the incident was, we have to bear 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 one wished for such incident to occur.”
Greetings, we are Red Candle Games from Taiwan. To all of our players, industry and media friends, we would like to provide an update on ‘Devotion’. pic.twitter.com/wfGTUbHtHx
— redcandlegames (@redcandlegames) July 15, 2019
Wireframe #17 is out now.