A new horror game on Steam called Devotion has proven to be a hit since it released a few days ago, but it's already been review bombed due to a Winnie the Pooh meme which referenced Chinese president Xi Jinping.
The meme was spotted in the Taiwanese horror game on an in-game poster (via Spiel Times and Eurogamer) which referenced the president, the lovable bear, and "moron" all in the same graphic. Devotion was doing fine in terms of reviews around the game's actual launch on February 19th, but a wave of review bombs from disgruntled Chinese users have caused Devotion to have a "Mixed" review rating with 40 percent of the responses being positive ones. The reviews appear to be on the rebound though as more recent reviews have been positive to counter the negative ones, though some still have legitimate complaints about the actual gameplay instead of hidden memes.
Responding to the situation caused by the Winnie the Pooh meme, developer Red Candle Games didn't deny the fact that the meme was present but instead said that it being left in the game was an accident and an example of placeholder content not being removed in the final build. The developer shared a statement on Steam and said it was "deeply sorry" and takes full responsibility for the artwork.
"This is purely an accident, and we have no intention for causing harm nor hatred," Red Candle Games said. "The said art material has been taken down and replaced at the evening of February 21. This incident indicates the fact that Red Candle Games' project management has failed to function. As a game company, Red Candle Games has immense room for improvement. We are deeply sorry for the trouble it caused to everyone, and that we sincerely ask for the forgiveness of our players."
In a follow-up statement, Red Candle Games gave a more comprehensive statement and said the controversial artwork in question was removed within an hour of the discovery on February 21st. The developer apologized again and said the publishers it worked with had nothing to do with the incident.
"Again, we apologize to our players, streamers and media friends for hurting your feelings," Red Candle Games said. "We would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that Devotion's publisher Indievent and Winking Entertainment did not know about the art material beforehand and were not involved in this incident at all. Currently our partnership has terminated. Red Candle Games will take full responsibility to compensate the relevant loss based on the contract."
Detention, Red Candle Games' other horror title, has also been hit with a review bomb following the controversy. Problems with the Winnie the Pooh meme have occurred in the past with Kingdom Hearts III at one point thought to be censored in China since it featured the character.