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For game developers that want to continue selling games in Germany, they'll need to ensure they actually have a content rating, including for older games. Hopefully there won't be any disruption, but Steam has a huge amount of games going back a great many years, so there may be a few that get caught-out in this.

Announced in a Steamworks Development blog post by Valve, they mentioned both Brazilian and German laws require content ratings for people to find age-appropriate content. However, there's been an ongoing legal debate as to whether that applied to new games only or to the back catalogue of older games too. Now the German regulatory authority BZKJ has "expressed to us their interpretation of the law applies to all games on Steam, including ones that were launched before the law came into effect".

So developers will now need to ensure their games have a rating to continue to be sold in Germany. The good news for developers, is that Steam has its own built-in rating system they can go opt to use, or game devs can go directly through the BZKJ.

For developers that released a game before January 2020, they may not have filled out the questionnaire for Valve's rating system, so they will need to go back and do it for their games.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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26 comments
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pb Mar 1
Wait so Germans can't buy any of the new small indie games that don't have a rating?
Liam Dawe Mar 1
Quoting: pbWait so Germans can't buy any of the new small indie games that don't have a rating?
Valve haven't said specifically that games will stop being sold, but at some point they would have to for games that don't have a rating considering the ratings body in Germany has said pretty clearly they should. But it should only take game devs a few minutes to do via Steam directly.
I'm somewhat a fan of this idea. I know that most games aren't horrible or inappropriate, but I like to know what I'm getting into and indie titles usually don't have an ESRB rating.
Romlok Mar 1
I think it's entirely reasonable to desire ratings for all games, so people know what they're buying for themselves or their kids or whoever. But it rubs me the wrong way that their answer to unrated games is a sales ban, rather than just an assumption of the highest possible age rating, so that fully grown adults can make up their own minds.

I assume, therefore, that this isn't entirely about age appropriate labelling, but also about the German authorities' desire to censor media. Are Germans still blocked from looking at too much blood?
poiuz Mar 1
Quoting: RomlokI think it's entirely reasonable to desire ratings for all games, so people know what they're buying for themselves or their kids or whoever. But it rubs me the wrong way that their answer to unrated games is a sales ban, rather than just an assumption of the highest possible age rating, so that fully grown adults can make up their own minds.

I assume, therefore, that this isn't entirely about age appropriate labelling, but also about the German authorities' desire to censor media. Are Germans still blocked from looking at too much blood?
I think you're hanging out a bit much with conspiracy theorists…

What you're describing is exactly what's happening. Any game without a rating is (surprisingly) unrated. But unrated games require an actual age verification. Of course they could do that but since Valve doesn't care it'll never happen.

QuoteThis is a prime occasion to introduce an account-level user age verification for Germany. Proven adults may buy unrated and even indexed (listed for non-public display or advertisement) games in Germany. There are even SSO solutions out there. Heck, Valve could even make Steam the go-to platform for online age verification with their own SSO.

Devs would only need to fill out the questionnaire, if they specifically wanted to market games for ages under 18.

Our group (forUncut!) years ago sent Gabe a detailed documentation - adult users widely were ready to pay any one time fee (iirc up to 30€) to be age verified.

I'm happy to elaborate further, if any representative of Valve wants to reach out.

https://steamcommunity.com/groups/steamworks/eventcomments/4302697419069722403#c4302697419070308605
When you're reich you're reich.
sarmad Mar 1
Maybe they should just use the highest rating (R, 21+, etc?) as the default for any game with no rating.
pb Mar 1
The can rate all games 69+ for all I care. The age verification at steam is a joke anyway. And I actually play less 18+ games now than when I was <18.
Brisse Mar 1
Good. If they're asking for money for these games (i.e. it's a business working within the capitalist framework) then that's exactly the sort of demand a state and it's citizens should be able to put on the sellers, whether they're a small self published indie or a massive publisher. This is a consumer friendly thing, as long as they keep their hands off open source, freeware, abandonware etc.

And to anyone who screams cENsORshiP: No it's not, not even remotely. This word has been so misused in the last few years and every time it happens, it's meaning is hollowed out, which is paving the way for actual censorship.


Last edited by Brisse on 1 March 2024 at 10:23 pm UTC
mylka Mar 1
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerI'm somewhat a fan of this idea. I know that most games aren't horrible or inappropriate, but I like to know what I'm getting into and indie titles usually don't have an ESRB rating.

games on steam have tags. they tell you everything you need to know. you do not need the government for this
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