Google Purges Hong Kong Protester Video Game for Breaking Rule on ‘Sensitive Events’

Tech giant is the latest company to remove content that could draw the ire of China’s Communist regime


Google has deleted a video game where players depict a Hong Kong protester from its Play app store — a move that comes soon after Apple made a similar decision by removing an app tied to Hong Kong protestors.

Google pulled “The Revolution of Our Times” game after a request from Hong Kong police, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday morning. The game, which went live less than a week earlier, violated Google’s rules against “sensitive events,” according to the Journal. Google’s policy site describes this as “content that may be deemed as capitalizing on or lacking reasonable sensitivity towards a natural disaster, conflict, death, or other tragic event.”

A Google spokesperson, in a statement to TheWrap, added it bars developers from making money off “serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies” through video games. “After careful review,” the statement continued, “we found this app to be violating that particular policy and suspended it, as we have done with similar attempts to profit from high-profile events such as earthquakes, crises, suicides and conflicts.”

The game’s developer, who goes by the pseudonym Spinner of Yarns, told the Hong Kong Free Press he planned on giving 80% of its earnings to Spark Alliance, a group helping arrested protesters with their legal fees.

On Wednesday night, Apple removed an app helping protestors track the where the police are — a day after People’s Daily, a propaganda outlet for China’s Communist regime, ripped Apple for assisting Hong Kong “rioters,” as the New York Times reported.

“The app displays police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement,” Apple told the Times. “This app violates our guidelines and local laws.”

Both Google and Apple’s decisions may win them some brownie points with China’s government, but they come at a particularly tense time in East-West relations.

The NBA is currently working through a rift with China that first opened last week, when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, writing in a since-deleted tweet: “Fight for Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.” His tweet was immediately criticized by the Chinese government. The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) suspended all cooperation with the Rockets, which is among the most popular in China. The Chinese Media Group, the country’s state-controlled media arm, said it was “deeply shocked by the erroneous comments” made by Morey. Tencent Sports, which signed a five-year, $1.5 billion to continue as the NBA’s streaming partner in China, said it would no longer offer live-streams of Rockets games and suspended all news coverage of the team.

At the same time, Blizzard Entertainment, a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based gaming giant Activision Blizzard, has been criticized for hitting a “Heartstone” player with a one-year ban for vocally supporting Hong Kong protesters on a livestream last weekend.

Tim Baysinger contributed to this report.