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GOG nixes re-release of censored horror game Devotion

The game was pulled from Steam shortly after its release date — and now blocked from GOG before it even got there

Image: Red Candle Games
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

CD Projekt-owned storefront GOG is pulling horror game Devotion mere hours after it was announced for the platform.

Red Candle Games’ Devotion received critical acclaim for its intimate, familial horror — but it was only available on Steam for six days before it was removed from Valve’s storefront, meaning tons of people never got to play it. Devotion may never come back to Steam, but it was getting a re-release through on Dec. 18, Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games announced on Twitter Wednesday. Then, GOG published an update to Twitter announcing it will no longer publish Devotion.

“Earlier today, it was announced that the game Devotion is coming to GOG,” the company wrote in a tweet. “After receiving many messages from gamers we have decided not to list the game in our store.”

Devotion was removed from Steam shortly after its release date in February 2019, after a meme critical of Chinese president Xi Jinping — which compared his likeness to Winnie the Pooh — was discovered in the game. Chinese players began review-bombing the game on Steam before Devotion was eventually pulled for a “complete QA check,” the developer said at the time. The game never returned. Red Candle Games has apologized multiple times for its “critical and unprofessional error” that angered Chinese fans.

We’ve reached out to GOG and Red Candle Games for more information, but have not heard back before publishing. The Devotion tweet from GOG has quickly amassed thousands of comments and retweets, most of which are from fans upset to see the game pulled from the platform. Many are speculating that the “many messages from gamers” refers to a similar backlash as what happened after Devotion’s initial release.

Like Red Candle Games’ Detention before it, Devotion is set in Taiwan. Whereas Detention was focused on Taiwan’s White Terror period of the 1960s, Devotion followed a Taiwanese family intertwined with a religious cult and is largely set in the 1980s.

Taiwanese fans were able to order a physical copy of Devotion in June, but it never got an English release. In February, Devotion was added to the Harvard-Yenching Library, alongside Detention. The titles were the first two games added to the library’s prestigious Chinese collection, Harvard-Yenching librarian Ma Xiao-he told Polygon at the time. Last year, Polygon named Devotion third on our 2019 Game of the Year list.

Update: The original version of this story covered the announcement of Devotion coming to GOG. Shortly after this story was published, GOG published a tweet stating that Devotion will no longer be published on GOG. This story has been updated to reflect this information.

Update (Dec. 17): On Thursday, Red Candle Games published a statement on Facebook, addressing GOG’s decision to pull Devotion off the platform.

“Though regretful but we are willing to understand and respect GOG’s decision,” Red Candle Games wrote. “For the players looking forward to Devotion’s re-release, please accept our more sincere apology. This is a difficult predicament to overcome, but we won’t stop striving.”