UPDATE 2: Red Candle Games has published a Facebook post clarifying that Devotion's removal from Steam was for the purpose of performing "another complete QA check."
"At the same time we'd like to take this opportunity to ease the heightened pressure in our community resulted 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," the post continues. "Hopefully this would help all audience to focus on the game itself again upon its return." [/UPDATE 2]
UPDATE: As of Monday afternoon, Devotion no longer appears on Steam in the US or Canada. Red Candle's official Facebook page includes no further updates explaining its absence. As USgamer noted, Red Candle's YouTube channel has also been scrubbed of any videos related to Devotion. Inquiries to Valve and Red Candle Games were not immediately returned. The original story follows below. [/UPDATE]
Red Candle Games launched its horror game Devotion on Steam last week, but as with any good horror story, what should have been a moment of celebration soon became something much more fraught.
As reported by Eurogamer, the Taiwanese developer has come under fire for a poster in the game that reads "Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh moron." In 2017, Chinese censors banned Winnie the Pooh references on social media after people had begun using the children's character as a stand-in for President Xi in an attempt to dodge restrictions on mocking the leader.
Red Candle's co-founders apologized for the poster on the game's Steam page, saying it was the work of one developer and the rest of the studio was unaware of its presence in the game.
"It was [not] until we received a private report made by a player on February 21 that we realized what was exactly written on that art material. Upon learning of this, we immediately replaced the art material within an hour," the developers said. "The words written on the art material does not stand for Red Candle Games' stance, nor is it in any ways related to Devotion's story and theme."
The studio confirmed that its agreement with the game's publishing partners Indievent and Winking Entertainment has been terminated, and that Red Candle "will take full responsibility to compensate the relevant loss based on the contract."
This morning Red Candle posted another update to its Steam page saying that people have been spreading inaccurate information about the game's sales figures and fake screenshots of supposedly official studio statements. Additionally, it noted that some people have begun looking for additional political commentary in the rest of the game's content, something the studio insists does not exist.
"It is not Red Candle's vision to secretly project extensive ideology, nor is it to attack any person in the real world," the co-founders said. "Even if the sensitive art element was wrongfully placed before, we kindly ask you not to over interpret other game material."