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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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KROM Mar 1
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It just sucks. All the explicit games are already banned in Germany, because there is no proper age verification in Steam and our institutions demand this - to protect the children, they say, to protect the "industry", I say.
Explicit games are 18+, yet I can buy and play pretty much any non-explicit 18+ game - for now. It just makes no sense.

Thing is, they could also extend this to pretty much any 18+ game, cuz laws and I'm unable to prove to Steam that I'm over 18. I'm just pissed to be a grown up man and being told by our institutions what I'm allowed to play, directly or indirectly. *sighs*
F.Ultra Mar 1
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Quoting: pbWait so Germans can't buy any of the new small indie games that don't have a rating?

Germany have always been quite strict when it comes to age ratings. For e.g movies on DVD you had to send in a picture of your national ID or drivers license to prove your age if you wanted to buy a 18+ rated movie.

It also spilled over to smaller markets like here in Scandinavia since we are such a small market and Germany is quite large, so distribution companies often made one version of DVD/BRs for Scandinavia+Germany and while we have no age rating on consumer media (only on cinema distribution) we still would get censured versions from time to time due to the company requesting a lower rating in Germany (to sell more copies) and was thus forced to cut stuff from the movie.

Quoting: KROMIt just sucks. All the explicit games are already banned in Germany, because there is no proper age verification in Steam and our institutions demand this - to protect the children, they say, to protect the "industry", I say.
Explicit games are 18+, yet I can buy and play pretty much any non-explicit 18+ game - for now. It just makes no sense.

Thing is, they could also extend this to pretty much any 18+ game, cuz laws and I'm unable to prove to Steam that I'm over 18. I'm just pissed to be a grown up man and being told by our institutions what I'm allowed to play, directly or indirectly. *sighs*

How would a sales ban protect the industry? I've always seen the strict age thing in Germany being connected with your long history of conservative Christians in the politics.

And looks like it has some bearing (from Wikipedia on the history of FSK):
QuoteMoreover, youth protection played no role in admission to movies of the occupying powers, so minors had unrestricted access to movies. Because of this, at the start of 1948 the German secretary of education of the western occupied zones set up a commission to answer the question of whether young people were endangered by movies. It was intended to develop suggestions for nationwide youth protection connected to films. The work of this agency began in the Hessian ministry for culture in Wiesbaden. As well as the representatives of the other countries' secretaries of education, representatives of the movie industry, the churches and the Katholische Jugend Bayern (Catholic Youth of Bavaria) were also invited to the hearing.


Last edited by F.Ultra on 1 March 2024 at 11:53 pm UTC
CatKiller Mar 2
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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.
Me, too, actually.

What would be particularly good is if the ratings bodies made it quick and painless (and cheap!) to get the ratings so that indie titles would have an ESRB/PEGI/BBFC/whatever rating.


Last edited by CatKiller on 2 March 2024 at 12:22 am UTC
Termy Mar 2
It's long overdue that steam implemented some age verification instead of just blocking games in germany. It#s not like that is much of a hazzle with eID nowadays...
14 Mar 2
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Hmm, I don't think I'm opposed to the idea, however it doesn't affect me. If it did affect me, I'd want to be able to say I'm adult ONE TIME and be done with it. But I would still like to see the age range devs / Steam estimates on each game.

I use tag filters now, and they work decently, but since they're crowd sourced, they can be overgeneralized, and games you didn't intend to be filtered, are.

Oh well. People and software will never be perfect.
Eike Mar 2
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They're saying developers can use the Steam integrated rating process - so I guess it's not too much of a hazzle for developers? Any developer here that could comment on that process?
Eike Mar 2
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Quoting: 14Oh well. People and software will never be perfect.

... but it's easier to improve software! ;)
14 Mar 2
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Quoting: Eike
Quoting: 14Oh well. People and software will never be perfect.

... but it's easier to improve software! ;)
Oh, yes. With software, there are only so many debatable opinions of direction to choose, whereas with humans, we can't even agree on what improve actually means.
KROM Mar 2
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Quoting: F.UltraHow would a sales ban protect the industry? I've always seen the strict age thing in Germany being connected with your long history of conservative Christians in the politics.

That's a quite difficult for me to explain, more so in English.
It's not about sales bans, but age verification in itself. There are so many areas where age verification isn't required at all, like e.g. YouTube, TikTok, X, you name it, but when it comes to explicit things, our institutions are very serious about it.

They, for example, demand the well known video portals to require German visitors to pass a real age verification - not talking about the "Yes, I'm 18+" button, but a real identity check.

While one can argue that this is a good thing - I don't think it is - it is only enforced when it comes to this kind of stuff. My take is, that it's not about protecting minors but about protecting the local industry, which has no other choice than to obey to these rules, as our laws directly apply to them. That puts them at an disadvantage compared to companies outside of Germany, so they are lobbying that those rules/laws that apply to them, should apply worldwide to anyone catering German users. This is just wild, IMHO.

Don't get me started that there were talks to try to force *international* websites to show explicit materials to German visitors only after 10 p.m. local time, because kids are (should) be in bed by then. That's just not how globalization and the internet works, that's just some crazy mindset by German bureaucrats.

So back to Steam. Why can any (German) minor buy any game, regardless of its rating, but nobody, no matter the age, can buy explicit (or what our institutions deem to be explicit, where a lot of that is laughable) games? There is some broken logic there. Now, when one thing is blocked already, it's easy to have the other thing blocked as well, if they seem it fit. It's just one more step, as the first step was already made.

In the end, it all wouldn't matter that much if Steam would offer some sort of one-time age verification for accounts. That my account in itself is older than 18 years doesn't seem to count. :)

I just don't want our institutions to go wild and force Steam to block any 18+ games in the future, regardless of their topic, for us Germans. It's not super likely, but I wouldn't wonder. We had some crazy stuff going on here already from the BZKJ in the past <insert "I've seen things" meme here>. That's why this is a sensitive topic to me, I just don't like any kind of paternalism.

Sorry for the rant... :)
I know i have a special usecase but as a host for a youthcenter and a big gamer i installed 6pcs to play games together. But living in germany i need age ratings for all games and if some dont have any i have to compare them with other games. Official ratings would help me a lot!
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