German censor passes uncut Gears 3

BPJM allows third instalment after questioning first and second

German censor BPJM has passed Gears of War 3 with no cuts, censorship or changes to blood colour - a curious u-turn from the body's position on the first two titles in the series.

German versions of the game will be identical to those sold in the US and the UK, Eurogamer reports.

Both Gears of War 1 and 2 are covered by a 'List A' classification in Germany, which means that whilst it's not illegal to sell them, any copies have to be kept out of sight in shops and all advertising and marketing is forbidden.

In practice, as all large-scale retailers steer clear of games issued a List A classification, this means that sales are minimised. Any games covered by the more stringent List B classification are subject to more scrutiny and can be potentially confiscated.

No particular reasoning was given for the change of heart, despite the game featuring the same chainsaw kills, gory 'stomping' and eviscerations as the previous titles. A BPJM representative said that the body saw no "relevance for a ban" of Gears 3 in the territory.

Related stories

Epic: The barrier between Xbox and PlayStation "will inevitably come down"

Tim Sweeney on the emergence of "real games for gamers" on mobile, and the role of cross-platform play for the future of the games business

By Matthew Handrahan

Epic Games shows off lifelike "digital humans" with Star Wars and Andy Serkis demos

At GDC today, the Unreal Engine creator demonstrated how real-time raytracing will help games finally cross the uncanny valley

By Matthew Handrahan

Latest comments (9)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
Small Correction
The USK rated it at 18, not the BPJM. The USK is, in contrast to the BPJM, a rating-board sponsored by the industry. BPJM is a state sponsored mess.

Microsoft has no influence at the BPJM, but they do have some influence at the USK. After all, the BUI, which is a collective of big publishers, pays their bills. Previously Sony seemed to have more influence there, as God of War titles usually passed the rating process just fine, while Microsoft published games with seemingly same levels of violence got turned down. Considering the USK has merely eight full time employees and everybody else is contracted on a semi-regular basis, you can imagine the objectivity of the process.

The USK hides behind a wall of text when it comes to their criteria for rating a game, but their only function is to put any sticker on the box, so publishers avoid the really troubling BPJM. The USK could get away with rating anything 18. If they refuse classification, it seems more like an act of corporate griefing than anything else.

The BPJM can legally only go after titles which the USK is 'tossing to the wolves' so to speak. They do not rate games, they just A-List or B-List stuff they do not like, which is about as random a process as it sounds. You could get away with not getting an USK classification, but chances are the people refusing classification at the USK will make the BPJM more than aware of the game.

This is certainly reflected in how long it took the BPJM to get aware of a game and A-List it before there was an USK and after. Since the inception of the USK games get A-Listed in record times, while as before teh USK it took a few month for a game to grow notorious enough to get on the BPJM shitlist.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 13th July 2011 2:59pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online6 years ago
Can you please use the right words in your news? I cringe every time I read the word "ban". I know it reads cool and fills the stereotype of Germany as a country where everything is reglemented to the iota and what have you, but as even you write correctly, Gears 1 and 2 were available in Germany, and easily so if you're over 18. Just send a copy of your ID to a mail-order store and they keep it on file and will send you every game you order til kingdom come. Only a very few games are really banned, such as "games" like "Concentration Camp Manager" and the likes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Roland Austinat on 13th July 2011 5:53pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Albert Schneider6 years ago
This News is false. Gears of War was never banned in Germany for a simple reason: You can't ban something that was never released there. Microsoft didn't bother with releasing Gears of War in Germany until now, so technically the rating board never had a chance to rate the previous two games.

BPJM is not a rating board it is a censor's office, the German rating boards are USK for games and FSK for movies.

Also List B Bans are not legally confiscated, they are mostly treated as list A bans except it signalizes that the content should be checked by lawyers since the medium on this list could contain illegal content.

Whoever is responsible for this News containing so many false assumptions and facts should never ever write news again.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Albert Schneider on 13th July 2011 6:12pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (9)
Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
Some clarity in regards to Gears:

The BPJM can put anything on their A-List or B-List. For the most part they do that to regulate neonazi music, especially the type which gets distributed at school yards. The BPJM regulate a lot of stuff which is being traded outside the regular commercial channels. For the police it is an important gateway to get to people doing the wrong type of propaganda. In essence, the BPJM decides what gets to be unconstitutional, even if the name suggests the BPJM was protecting minors. Fake naming at its best.

Microsoft is a member of the BUI (Federal alliance of interactive entertainmentsoftware) which is all the big publishers rolled into one giant German lobby/interest group. It is EA, Blizzard, Sony, Microsoft, all the heavyweights. Together they fund the USK which is the German BBFC, or PEGI equivalent. Together they run the Gamescom. The deal this lobby brokered with German legislation is this. As long as the USK puts a sticker on the game, the BPJM can do jackshit. Every publisher in the BUI swears they only release games with an USK rating. Only games without an USK rating are subject to BPJM scrutiny, but why would that happen, the USK is an industry gig after all. The publishers hated the BPJM for its randomness and by means of the USK, they finally defeated it. Before we had situations where Quake was A-Listed for its violence, but Unreal uncut was perfectly fine. The BPJM was really really random, it even A-Listed submarine simulations which took part in the wrong decade, or anything related to WW2 for that matter.

With the USK in place, everybody thought "fine, at worst we get an 18, but that does not bother a single German store". German stores tend to sell Hostel next to Ghostbusters at the entrance of the store. Games rated 18 get big advertisement still. So with the USK in place, publishers thought to be finally able to sell anything. Guess again, suddenly the USK refused some classifications. Not that it took offense at Kratos doing nasty stuff, no, there were some publishers who just did not seem to get their 18 classification, while Take 2 and Sony could pretty much rape-kill the virgin Mary with voice controls. In essence, the USK became just as random with a bitter after taste of corporate infighting.

Now Microsoft was in a tight spot. They had agreed not to release a game without USK rating, but not selling Gears in Germany was no option either. They clearly had not the type of influence at the USK other publishers seemed to enjoy. So they "officially" did not release Gears in Germany. Instead they released it in Austria only. Any self-respecting German retail chain will have tons of stores in Austria. So they just ordered them there and shipped them to their German stores, or, if you live in the South, the German stores directly ordered them from Microsoft Austria. Microsoft Germany just said "there, we did not sell it".

This has become the template of all games refused classification, even Mortal Kombat. The remake of which has even be B-Listed, thanks to its celebratory status. Still, you get fully localized games and covers of all those games. Since they are now in circulation, the BPJM usually intervenes within the first two weeks. Before the USK, they took months, so somebody is tipping them off and supplying them well ahead of time.

This someone is causing the loophole, of only officially selling a German version in Austria, to close too quickly. As a result, the pressure from Microsoft on the BUI and USK to rate their game 18 must have risen and it seems they finally broke it. The USK also seemed to have gotten more plucky in telling people what exactly gets them which rating. but people from Sweden rest assured, Dead or Alive is still rated USK-12. So it is a bunch of bogus baloney across Europe anyway.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dan Pearson Business Development, Purewal Consulting6 years ago
Roland, Albert, apologies if this has caused offence, but in fact I think the terms of objections here are really semantic. All information was actually sourced from the German language site via consultation with their journalists. Any meanings which have become misinterpreted in that process are my responsibility, however.

Perhaps the term 'ban' here is the incorrect one, as you've pointed out - I'll edit the story now and substitute the word classification instead.

Comments are always welcome - constructive or otherwise, but it's worth pointing out that there is no intention on our behalf to propagate any false information.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Albert Schneider6 years ago
Thanks for the clarification, just apply my statement to Eurogamer. Their so called journalists don't seem to do their homework. I am pretty sure you didn't want to deceive anyone, I was actually meaning the people who supplied you with this information.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Thomas Luecking6 years ago
Ufff... in case it is not only me... "really semantic" fits it quite well... calm down guys... I bet it is only Germans who actually read this story anyways...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Thomas Luecking on 15th July 2011 9:08am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany6 years ago
I must add that this is old news... since as of late we have seen this changes in Germany. Example of a few games that came uncut here:

-Dragon Age 2
-No more Heroes: Heroes' Paradise
-Shadows of the Damned
-Dead Space 2 (even the first one, although everyone reported it to be indexed)

About the red blood, it has been tolerated since years already (in 2008 you already had a lot of red-blooded games around). But yes, a change of mentality is indeed taking place within USK.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany6 years ago
@Albert Schneider

To add something to your information: Gears of War was not released in Germany because one of Microsoft's guidelines. It states that they will not allow the releasing of a game for their console if it was not rated by the rating embodiment of the country in which the tittle is going to be distributed.

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.