From The Dumb Polish Donkey to Old Nin: Chinese nicknames for gaming companies
What do Chinese gamers call CD Projekt Red, Ubisoft and Nintendo?
Since the conclusion of this year’s biggest gaming event, E3, there’s been all sorts of gaming news swirling across the internet. Not surprisingly, Chinese gamers also follow E3 closely. But if you stumble upon a Chinese gaming post or a comment on social media, you might be confused by some of the names being tossed around.
Gamers in China regularly refer to companies like “The Dumb Polish Donkey,” “The Potato Factory,” and “GayWare,” among other names.
This is because the official names of gaming companies are often meaningless transliterations of their English pronunciations and may be hard to remember. So many Chinese gamers have taken it upon themselves to give gaming companies easy-to-remember nicknames.
Of course once naming a company is in the hands of gamers, one company might wind up with a cute or affectionate nickname while another gets something more… toxic or crude.
So please do read on, but know there is some foul language here. (Nothing you seasoned gamers can’t handle.)
Here are seven distinct Chinese nicknames for gaming companies, both from home and abroad.
The Dumb Polish Donkey (CD Projekt Red)
CD Projekt Red, the Polish company behind Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is often referred to by Chinese gamers as “The Dumb Polish Donkey.” While this nickname naturally comes across as extremely derogatory, it's actually an affectionate one.
The Dumb Polish Donkey is very popular among Chinese gamers in recent years. They gave CD Projekt Red this nickname to praise it for including an enormous amount of free, quality content in its last marquee game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The nickname was also a response to many gaming companies in China that routinely churn out cheap, cash-grab titles. The name suggests CD Projekt Red is “dumb” like a tireless donkey, unlike all the “shrewd” Chinese gaming companies seen as exploitative and trying to profit from gamers at every turn.
The Potato Factory (Ubisoft)
Besides the fact that Ubisoft’s logo looks like a potato, Chinese gamers frequently refer to Ubisoft as "Potato" to mock the French company's often slow server speeds for its online games.
The running gag is that Ubisoft, the company behind huge franchises such Assassin’s Creed and various Tom Clancy titles like The Division, uses potatoes to power their servers.
To be fair, Western gamers have also embraced the same joke. But for Chinese gamers, "The Potato Factory" is a more commonly used nickname.
Before recent smash hits like Monster Hunter: World, the remake of Resident Evil 2, and Devil May Cry 5, Japanese company Capcom had some rough years prior to 2018. During this run, starting at about the turn of the century, Capcom got itself the unfortunate nickname of "Ca-bitch" among Chinese gamers, who believed that Capcom had reneged on too many promises.
One of the most hated moves by Capcom in the country was putting Resident Evil 4 on more platforms, which was supposed to be a GameCube exclusive. The game was later released on the PlayStation 2, and in subsequent years it also got releases on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and the iPhone.
If you think more availability should be a good thing, then you didn’t drop a bunch of money on a smuggled gaming system. At the time, gaming consoles were banned in China. So getting a GameCube meant paying more to get it from the black market.
For those who got a GameCube just to play RE4, it certainly wasn't a good feeling knowing the game would later be available on virtually all the other platforms.
This widely-circulated nickname for the Canadian gaming company BioWare reflects an uncomfortable truth about China: The country's mainstream culture still struggles to embrace diverse sexual orientations.
Despite its recent work “crunch culture” scandal, BioWare, the company behind the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises, has often been praised in the gaming community for being a trailblazer for LGBTQ inclusion in video games.
As early as 2003, BioWare included a lesbian character in its blockbuster Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic. In 2014, Dorian in Dragon Age: Inquisition was the franchise's first exclusively gay character.
Sadly, this nickname is typically used in a derogatory tone in China. Sexual diversity still remains taboo in the country, and related imagery or other forms of content are often censored by the government.
Old Nin (Nintendo)
Nintendo has been a top player in the gaming industry since the 80s. So seeing Nintendo as an old friend, Chinese gamers habitually call Nintendo Lao Ren, which means Old Nin. (Ren is the Chinese pronunciation of the first character in Nintendo’s official name).
If the name sounds familiar, it might be because you’ve spent some time in China as a foreigner, who are often referred to as laowai, which literally means “Old Foreign.” In most cases, laowai is a neutral term. In the case of Lao Ren or Old Nin, it's mostly used endearingly.
The Penguin Factory (Tencent)
Except Ubisoft, Chinese companies are typically the only ones that get to be nicknamed "factories." Why? Well, it seems like some believe only socialist or communist countries get to take pride in their factories. China is a socialist country, so there you go.
Tencent is so large and churns out so many games that the name seems fitting, anyway. But this name has more to do with Tencent's mascot, a scarf-clad penguin. So Tencent gets to be The Penguin Factory.
The Pig Factory (NetEase)
NetEase does not have a pig mascot. But besides running China’s second largest gaming business after Tencent, the company also owns pig farms because its founder, Ding Lei, loves agriculture.
These are not just any pig farms, either. They prepare non-GMO black pork that costs US$24 per kilo. (If you don’t eat pork, try their burgers.) In one auction, one of the company’s pigs was sold for more than US$23,000.
Besides owning the farms, every year, Ding brings his little black pigs to the World Internet Conference where all the Chinese tech bosses get to enjoy a deluxe pork dinner after the pigs are slaughtered. No, seriously.
So NetEase is the The Pig Factory, and the name seems tragically fitting.