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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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kerossin Mar 2
"I like to know what I'm getting into" so why not look at what you're buying? Read the description? Watch the trailer? I guess that's too hard.

I don't think the ratings are a big problem but people who can't understand what they're buying without an ESRB or similar logo are just plain stupid.
F.Ultra Mar 2
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Quoting: KROM
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... :)

But that is just how laws work. If say gambling isn't allowed in state X then obviously people in state X are also not allowed to gamble on the Internet in state Y so state X will try and prohibit state Y to allow people from state X to gamble online there. This is how it works in any state, so Germany isn't special here.

And Germany haven't blocked any game. This is just a side effect (an unfortunate one for people in Germany ofc) of Valve refusing to implement age verification on their store which means that all games that are unrated, automatically gets the 18+ rating and since Valve doesn't perform age verification they are not allowed to sell those games in Germany.

So what you see is a clash of ideas. And this have been highly criticized to Valve for at least 12 years now: https://www.hlportal.de/files/avs_report.pdf so they are well aware of it but still do nothing, they are also loosing sales over it in a very large market and still do nothing, so Valve must really be against implementing it.
14 Mar 3
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Quoting: kerossinI don't think the ratings are a big problem but people who can't understand what they're buying without an ESRB or similar logo are just plain stupid.
It's not stupid to have the ability to filter movie and game libraries by rating so you don't have to review every single request your child makes. Are you stupid since you didn't think of that?

It's easy to use that word but not as easy to hear it.
beko Mar 4
Quoting: pbWait so Germans can't buy any of the new small indie games that don't have a rating?

_Grown ups_ can.

They are not forbidden.

This is not a "new law". It's old. Steam just managed to fly under the radar, because the office in question was busy switching from FAX to MAIL</sarcasm>. Means it's slow but will eventually catch up, like everything that is "digitalization"

Also yes - it is a pain for FOSS games as well. Our harmless maxr ( Mechanized Assault & eXploration Reloaded ) is on a block list used my most schools. That's right: The website can not be accessed from such networks 👏

We poke a lot of fun at this within the team but it's how it is.

Edith says: Fixed link


Last edited by beko on 4 March 2024 at 8:12 pm UTC
pb Mar 4
Quoting: bekoOur harmless maxr ( Mechanized Assault & eXploration Reloaded ) is on a block list used my most schools. That's right: The website can not be accessed from such networks 👏

Must be because of ASS in the name. Can't have kids looking at asses in school time.


Last edited by pb on 4 March 2024 at 8:32 pm UTC
beko Mar 5
Quoting: pb
Quoting: bekoOur harmless maxr ( Mechanized Assault & eXploration Reloaded ) is on a block list used my most schools. That's right: The website can not be accessed from such networks 👏

Must be because of ASS in the name. Can't have kids looking at asses in school time.
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