Launching a game in China can be tricky in more ways than you’d expect. Capcom hasn’t even fully released its Resident Evil 3 remake, but the demo has already angered patriotic Chinese gamers.
The free demo of the game contains a safe that can be unlocked with a three-digit passcode: 918. According to Abacus, some gamers in China found the number to reference September 18 in 1931. That’s when the Mukden Incident took place leading to Japan’s invasion of northeastern China. By various estimates, the Second Sino-Japanese War that followed claimed lives of over 20 million people.
Those offended by the alleged reference do not think it’s a coincidence.
“If it were some American or European small studio that wasn’t aware of the meaning of 918, I would understand,” a review reads on Steam. “But you are a world-renowned Japanese gaming giant. As a famous company in Japan, where did your political acuity and company culture go?”
Even if those gamers might be reading too much into it, these sensitivities are a reality of the Chinese market, which should be taken into account.
Earlier, Tencent and Bilibili pulled down the anime My Hero Academia. One of its characters was a mad scientist who experimented on humans. His name was Maruta Shiga. This was widely recognized as a reference to Japan’s Unit 73, which tested bioware on prisoners of war that they called “maruta,” which means “timber.” Following the backlash in China and South Korea, the name of the character was changed.
We are yet to see if Capcom will change the passcode. Most Chinese gamers agree that Capcom takes the Chinese market seriously as they expect the game to be dubbed in Chinese. This is despite the fact that Resident Evil 3 will not officially sell in China when it comes out on April 3. And it’s unlikely that the local regulators will be approving the title any time soon. Chinese gamers, however, will be able to buy the game from Steam, which still remains unregulated by the authorities.