Though gaming's "digital revolution" of the last decade-plus has made it easier than ever for developers to get their games in players' hands, it's also demonstrated the worrying future for game preservation, where digital titles can be removed from a storefront with no warning whatsoever.
We recently documented a number of games so uniformly awful that they were delisted from their respective platforms, and while every game deserves to be preserved no matter how bad it might be, sometimes the reasons for delisting transcend mere quality.
These 10 video games, from highly acclaimed cult faves to more questionably motivated efforts, were all pulled from digital distribution for a multitude of strange reasons.
In some cases it was a mere act of corporate cowardice, of bowing to pressure from higher-ups in order to maintain business relationships, while in others it was clearly a justified removal, given the obviously nefarious intent on the part of the developer.
While the overwhelming majority of games are delisted due to licensing agreements expiring relating to brand names or music, sometimes the rationale is a little more surprising and unexpected...
10. It Pissed Off The Chinese Government - Devotion
Devotion was a psychological horror game released on February 19, 2019 by Red Candle Games, the team behind 2017's highly acclaimed horror title Detention.
Though Devotion received strong reviews upon release, within days players discovered that the Taiwanese game featured an Easter egg mocking China's president, Xi Jinping.
A piece of Chinese seal script referred to Jinping as "Winnie the Pooh", referencing a famous Internet meme derisively comparing the leader to the beloved children's icon.
As a result, Devotion was review-bombed on Steam by allegedly Chinese players, and though Red Candle promptly patched out the offending material, complaints continued to mount about over aspects of the game which were perceived as anti-China.
Devotion was first pulled from Steam in China, but just six days after its release, Red Candle delisted the game globally, citing both technical issues and the pressure put upon them by the backlash, which included their own publishers cutting ties with them.
In December 2020, it was announced that the game would be returning for sale on the Good Old Games store, yet mere hours later GOG reversed their stance, apparently due to "receiving many messages from gamers" asking them not to sell it.
Devotion finally became available once more in March 2021 when Red Candle opened their own digital store, where they were free to sell whatever they wanted.