Dead Rising 3 denied rating in Germany

Xbox One down one launch title thanks to Germany's strict take on video game violence

Dead Rising 3 has fallen afoul of Germany's ratings board, leaving the Xbox One without one of its key launch exclusives in the country.

The news broke yesterday via the German website Games Welt, and Destructoid since confirmed Dead Rising's fate with Microsoft.

"Dead Rising 3 will not be released in Germany as part of the Xbox One launch line-up on November 22, having been unable to attain an age-rating upon review by BPJM (Bundeprüfstelle für Jugendgefährende Medien), the country's entertainment software self-regulation body," a Microsoft representative said.

"While Microsoft is disappointed with this decision, we respect the views of the review panel and have withdrawn Dead Rising 3 from Germany's Xbox One launch line-up."

According to Game Welt, the BPJM did not describe the reasoning behind its decision to deny Dead Rising 3 a rating, but it is notoriously strict on violence in video games. Indeed, Germany is one of the few Western territories where depictions of sex are treated with more leniency than depictions of violence.

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Latest comments (7)

Jakub Mikyska CEO, Grip Digital4 years ago
"Germany is one of the few Western territories where depictions of sex are treated with more leniency than depictions of violence."

So very sad. Showing excessive violence is OK, but showing breasts is unacceptable to many and a theme of rape is a complete taboo (remember Tomb Raider).
Why is hurting people a better thing than having an intercourse?
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 4 years ago
It's a shame - I wonder exactly what triggered this...

Indeed, Germany is one of the few Western territories where depictions of sex are treated with more leniency than depictions of violence.

This, however, is a pretty good stance, IMO. Sexual themes and depictions in games should be treated with more leniency than senseless violence (obviously, same with senseless sexual depictions in games!). I really don't understand the puritanical stance on sex but outright endorsement of very graphical violence - especially with 15/M rated games.
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Gnud Rehnquister4 years ago
Handling the depiction of sex with more leniency than depictions of violence is pretty plausible for me (maybe because I'm from Germany). Sex in most cases is something you get involved in by choice and in most cases it ends with noone's getting hurt without approval. So pretty much the opposite to causeless violence.

The BPJM might not be errorless, but they don't deny approval because of violence in too many cases. They focus on censoring "glorification" of violence. And in most cases i can at least understand why they don't want uncontrolled access to those tites ...
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Show all comments (7)
Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
So I guess this is a precursor to what Austrailia is going to do to Dead Rising 3.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
There is a factual error in the article. The rating was refused by the USK. Microsoft "pulled the game" in fear of the BPJM, which is something different. In essence, it is an act to retain some sales in Germany, not prevent them. News such as these are employed as a strategy: "get the game quick, it might not be there forever". Explanation follows.

An institution created by the video game industry to slap a rating on each game. Good lobbying means there is a law that the rating cannot be challenged by other entities which would be closer to the government. Although the USK being an industry body, it has been accused of favoring Sony over Microsoft when it comes to slapping classifications onto games. Remember, they could always slap an 18 on anything and nobody in Germany would ever bother. If your Zombie game does not get an 18 rating, it's not the game, it is you. At times it seems the fight for market shares starts at USK level. Theoretically an independent body, but still the inconsistencies and how they are distributed across publishers says a lot.

The reason why the USK was created. An institution which can look at any type of media after release (very important that this happens after release). Should it be too violent, flat out pronographic, or involve too many third Reich symbols or ideologies, the game may not be advertised and not sold in shelves. Please note that any person above the age of 18 can still go to the counter and ask for the game. Worst case, it needs to be ordered and is there to pick up the next day. Only very few games ever got on a special shitlist of the BPJM which means those games get pulled from stores. It is still legal to own them, if you buy them abroad. Dead Rising is such a game which was pulled by the BPJM from shelves. However, had the USK just rated it as 18, the BPJM could not have done anything. Considering what is on German shelves for sale, Dead Rising would not have set a negative record. The list of titles pulled from shelves is mainly stuff like "Concentration Camp Manager" and other vile shit no retailer in their right mind would put into shelves. Plus a few games with mainstream scaremongering including political agendas. More recent entries on the list mostly made some error in dealing with the USK. Due to the BPJM appearing mighty frustrated about the USK circumventing their judgment by designer law, those games usually do not get a fair treatment. If you are asking yourself which game was rated in which way, then bad luck, the public does not get a list, the BPJM is shrouded in secrecy.

Let's say, you are in charge of a German Media Markt expecting to sell 150 copies of Dead Rising 3. Microsoft Germany just told you, there won't be any. You pick up the phone, you call Microsoft Austria and order 150 copies from them. They shall be German, they have a "PEGI" rating, which is another layer of European certification standard, which boils down to "it is legal for you to sell them". But in contrast to the USK, a PEGI rating does not protect from BPJM intervention, so expect the game to vanish behind counters after the BPJM finished their process. A process consisting of going to a store, buying the game, playing it to completion, talking about it and then settle on a course of action.

Prominent Exaple of how things work:
Mortal Kombat 2011 Remake. The publisher did not ask for an USK rating. The game then could be briefly bought visibly, before the game was pulled from shelves by the BPJM. You then had to walk to the counter and show some ID. In early 2013 the Komplete Edition was still not classified by the USK because the publisher did not ask for it. The game was looked at again (!) by the BPJM and now it got the pulled from shelves judgment slapped down on it, upon which it vanished from shelves. If you buy a Steam key from some Caribbean keyshop with your Paypal account, you can still enter it to your Steam and the game will download from Germany no problem.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd4 years ago
Censoring any form of expression that is cobsumed and created by informed adults (aside from age restrictions for children) is ridiculous. It's a thought crime, blocked by the mental police.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
The first stage of BPJM involvement is not censorship, it is a so called "Indizierung", which boils down to not being able to advertise the product and relative effective age checks. The product is still for sale and an advertisement ban is not something unheard of. Alcohol and Tobacco have similar advertisements restrictions across western societies here and there.

The second stage of BPJM involvement kicks into gear when media breach the law. At some point you can use free speech to commit a criminal act. You are free to speak free, but that does not mean you cannot be held liable. The BPJM is body dealing with those German sensibilities. Sometimes they overshoot the target and you could make the case of them being backwards. Sometimes they are abused for political gain. Sometimes they are random by putting Quake3 on their list, but being a-ok with Unreal Tournament. The response to all that is already in place, a heavily lobbied for, industry body shutting the BPJM out of their own process, the USK.

Being an industry body, the USK would still not do anything risking their status, or be replaced by a government institution. It is a spitting image of the MPAA situation over in the U.S. A lot of rating boards are that way. Meanwhile the BPJM can't be too happy about the law the gaming lobby put in front of their face, but are struggling to hold ground. But there is that one tenant connecting 1970ies BPJM activity with today. One critter which helped the BPJM define itself in the past, a critter the BPJM supporters regardless of age know as a threat: the zombie. Anything which fuels the 1970ies argument of Zombies being a bare minimum replacement to glorify violence against other human beings, is something the USK will still have a hard time dealing with. Not every time, just from time to time. While the gaming industry sees itself as the blockbuster family entertainment business, the BPJM retains a "exploitation cinema analogue" outlook on games. To their credit, few games try to prove the BPJM wrong, and those who did never had any issues with them.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is playing a dirty game. They do a press release how they are the victims of German censorship when they know very precisely why the USK refused the title and even Microsoft must agree with this act of self-preservation on the USK's part. If the USK does crazy things, they run the risk of a government shutdown and Microsoft risks a throwback to the age where publishers used agitated consumer groups to pull the games of the competition from the shelves. The bottom line being that the game rated M in the U.S. actually getting sold to adults in Germany instead of teenagers. That is not mental policing, that is called common sense.
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