The backstory in Guilty Gear Strive has been edited in order to remove various terms sensitive to China. These terms include "Uyghur", "Taiwan", and "Tibet", all of which were mentioned in the game's lore but have now been excised.
Why has the Guilty Gear Strive backstory been edited?
These changes were first spotted by ResetEra user AAK, who notes that the information originally came from the Guilty Gear Strive Steam forums. AAK provides a before and after screenshot to demonstrate the changes, which were applied in a recent update. Prior to the changes, a section of the lore refers to "Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore" as countries with high population density. This section was changed to simply read "countries and regions in Asia". A little later, the same section mentions that China expands its borders to "encompass Uyghur, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Mongolia, and Siberia". This section has been changed to "nearby regions with lower populations". These are relatively innocent mentions, but they've been removed nonetheless. You can check out the comparison in the screenshot below.
Let's break down why these terms are sensitive in relation to China. The Uyghurs are a Muslim minority group living in China, and the US has accused the CCP of perpetrating genocide against the group due to arbitrary detention in state camps. Taiwan is a self-ruled country that China considers to be part of it, even if it functions as a sovereign state (when it isn't claiming it is the real China). Tibet is in a similar position; late last year, reports circulated regarding Tibetans being coerced into what are essentially forced labor camps. The situation goes back even further, with the Free Tibet movement arguing that Tibet is being oppressed by China.
Gaming's troubled relationship with China
This is far from the first time a game has been changed due to policies in China. Open-world gacha RPG Genshin Impact censors "Hong Kong", "Taiwan", and other words in its chat, even in international versions of the game. This isn't unusual, though; developer miHoYo is Chinese, and this is a prerequisite for Chinese developers if they want to publish their games internationally. Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games' horror adventure Devotion was removed from Steam in 2019 after it was found to contain a reference to Winnie the Pooh, a derisive meme aimed at CCP leader Xi Jinping. The game is now available once again in a DRM-free version from the developer's website, but it's still not listed on Steam, GOG, or any other major digital storefront.
It's worth noting that these are both slightly different situations. Again, miHoYo is Chinese, so it must toe the line when it comes to censorship requirements, even in international markets. Devotion lost its publisher thanks to the outcry, and although Red Candle did remove the offending Winnie the Pooh mention, it didn't set out to censor its game from the outset. The Guilty Gear Strive situation isn't unique, but it does show that developers are being very cautious when it comes to including terminology related to China, however divorced from the real-life global political situation it actually is. We'll bring you more on this as soon as we get it.
How do you feel about the changes made to Guilty Gear Strive? Let us know in the comments below!