The Chinese publisher for an indie game made by a Taiwanese studio that included content mocking Chinese President Xi Jinping has recently lost its business license, according to documents posted on Twitter.
The document, a notice from Shanghai Yangpu District Market Supervision Administration, rescinded Indievent’s qualifications to conduct business. The notice was tweeted by Iain Garner, co-founder of game publisher Another Indie. Garner said that the notice was obtained by his acquaintances in the Chinese game industry.
The punishment came four months after the horror game “Devotion” was found to contain background artwork that insulted President Xi, sparking heated debates on social media platform Weibo and Steam, the platform that distributed the game.
The game developer, Red Candle Games, quickly apologized, calling the inclusion of the controversial artwork an “awfully unprofessional mistake.” A day later, the studio removed the game from Steam across all regions, citing technical issues and promising to further review the game for unintended references.
Indievent immediately ceased all partnerships with Red Candle Games after the news broke out, but wasn’t able to escape punishment. The Market Supervision Administration accused the publisher of “damaging national security and public interests,” and made the decision to revoke Indievent’s business license in late March. Because Indievent did not respond to a notice sent on May 30 entitling the company to defend itself at a hearing, the punishment was finalized, the notice said.
“Absolutely depressing. As someone who is looking to gain game development experience and planning to start a business, this is going to scare me from getting into the Chinese gaming industry,” a Twitter user going by the handle “RetroEmil” commented below Garner’s tweet.
As of writing, “Devotion” is still unavailable on Steam, and Red Candle Games’ Facebook page has been inactive since the last apology dated February 23.
“Are you going to continue like this?” a Facebook user named “Huang Jianhao” asked in a comment on the apology post on June 28.