Devolver Digital is known for handling subversive content, but publishing Vile Monarch's Weedcraft Inc has proved to be more difficult than any of its previous games.
Speaking to Techcrunch, Devolver co-founder Mike Wilson described the industry's response to a game about the marijuana industry in the United States as, "shocking."
"This is definitely the hardest game I've had to market, and that's saying something," Wilson said. "It has been a fucking nightmare. The fact that we're still so afraid of a topic like weed instead of the murder simulators you can market any time, anywhere, it's shocking."
While marijuana is still illegal in the majority of US states, there are ten in which recreational use is now legally permitted. Devolver has acknowledged that Weedcraft explores the "semi-legal" climate in which the marijuana industry exists, and has also pointed out that it never depicts any illegal drug use.
"This isn't a pro-legalization game. This is a tycoon game," Wilson said. "... We wanted it to be representative of all the social issues involved. It's kind of like doing a game about booze in the prohibition era -- like, what an interesting industry to study, right?"
However, while the subject matter is increasingly difficult to argue as a depiction of illegal drug activity, Devolver has encountered resistance in the form of blocked social media pages and demonetised YouTube videos.
Wilson also told Techcrunch that console game stores were "reluctant" to carry the game, and said that it would never be featured.
In the discussion around Weedcraft, Devolver has defended the game by citing the industry's relative comfort with depictions of other illegal activities; specifically the murder and violence featured in so many video games, not least the Devolver published Hotline Miami series and the recent hit Scum.