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Resident Evil 2 is banned in China, so shops are using hand-drawn art to sell it

Taobao is secretly offering games through code names like “First Day on the Job at the Police Station: Remake”

Video gaming
This article originally appeared on ABACUS

It’s no secret that China has a strict policy towards gaming. Like almost every form of content, it’s very picky about what is allowed to be shown in games -- which means no nudity, no gambling and definitely no blood and gore.

It’s not surprising that the Resident Evil 2 remake is on the blacklist. But what is surprising is how it’s being sold anyway.

Red Dead Redemption 2 gets rave reviews in China… from gamers who’ve never played it

Online vendors are finding sneaky ways around the ban, disguising that they’re selling banned game with new titles and hand-drawn cover art. And those covers? They look like they’ve been drawn by an 8-year-old child.
C’mon guys, I can do better than that. (Picture: Taobao)

While that one flat-out says Resident Evil 2, other vendors are giving the game a code name. This one, for example, is called “First Day on the Job at the Police Station: Remake”. Which is true! Resident Evil 2 starts with police officer Leon S. Kennedy heading into the city for his first day of duty, meeting college student Claire Redfield… and a bunch of zombies, of course.

If Resident Evil was an anime it would look like this. Actually, I really want to watch that. (Picture: Taobao)
Other names for Resident Evil 2? “ Fried Cold Rice 2”, “Come Beat Me 2”, “ Biochemical Crisis” (a nod to the game’s Japanese name, Biohazard) or simply January 25th, the date the game was released.
Sometimes vendors just put a different game cover altogether, trying to hint at the real game with wordplay. One guy just decided to use the cover of less scary horror puzzle game Little Nightmares, adding Remake to the title. And another vendor is selling Resident Evil 2 using an image from Plants vs Zombies. (Hey, at least it’s about zombies.)
I’m sorry officer, you received Resident Evil 2 instead of Little Nightmares? Must be a mistake, happens all the time, I’m not trying to get around the ban at all. (Picture: Taobao)
A cursory search reveals that Chinese ecommerce sites are offering other Resident Evil installments too. This game cover, for instance, was inspired by a Resident Evil YouTube cartoon, which in turn was inspired by a Vengaboys song. (Yeah, I know.)
So much for YouTube being blocked in China. (Picture: YouTube)
It’s also not the first time that banned games have popped up for sale under different names and artwork. Back when Battlefield 4 was banned in China, vendors started selling the game as " Boyfriend Storm" to avoid regulators.

But a game doesn’t have to be banned for consumers to want to buy an illegal version. To officially sell Diablo 3 in China, Blizzard had to team up with local game company NetEase and remove blood, exposed bones, and stitches.

Meet NetEase, China’s second-largest game publisher

Those who wanted to play the original version had to search for it under hilarious pseudonyms such as Demon Buddy and Big Pineapple (the listings featuring pictures of pineapples have since been removed).
I would actually like to play a game called Demon Buddy. (Picture: Taobao)

Why pineapple, you ask? It sounds similar to Diablo in Chinese.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.