Chinese publisher Indievent is in deep trouble with the Chinese government, apparently thanks to them publishing the indie horror game Devotion.
Devotion, developed by Red Candle Games, was found to contain artwork specifically mocking the current President of China, Xi Jinping, which is illegal under Chinese law. The artwork in question is in regards to Jinping's likeness to Winnie the Pooh, often used as a popular caricature of Jinping when criticizing him or the Chinese government.
The references to Winnie the Pooh would see the Taiwanese- based developers game removed from Steam amid a massive backlash from Chinese players.
Indievent, which published Devotion in China, quickly cut ties against the company back in February. It was announced today, however, that the publisher has had its license pulled due to the controversy.
The announcement comes from Iain Garner, of indie publisher Another Indie, on twitter this morning. Garner spoke briefly with PC GamesN on the issue, noting his information is mostly second-hand from his Chinese colleagues. The announcement also doesn't specifically mention Devotion either; instead, it is the vague claim that Indievent "broke relevant laws."
Indievent's publishing partner, the Taiwanese-based company Winking, will likely be indirectly affected by these actions as well. While Chinese law has little jurisdiction in Taiwan, the Taiwanese game industry is heavily reliant on China, and constant government pressure could see publishers like Winking and developers like Red Candle Games from receiving funding.
To date, Devotion has not been let back on Steam, though other Red Candle Games such as Detention are still available to purchase.
Quick TakeConsidering censorship laws and how strict China is when it comes to protecting Xi Jinping from any form of protest, I highly doubt that Indivent is being punished for anything but the easter egg found in Devotion. It once again shows what the effect of government-style censorship can be, especially if they can more or less cripple a company like Indivent for something that was never even in their control.
China will continue to censure publishers and developers over offending content, and a ton of people in Asia today who rely on China to help fund the bill for them need to likewise be careful going forward. Unless we can change China's laws on censorship, and other matters. That in of itself is a whole other discussion though.
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