German gamers hoping to score an uncensored copy of Call Of Duty: Black Ops in two weeks are very much out of luck. It may not come as a surprise to learn that the version of Call of Duty: Black Ops localized for German audiences will receive a healthy dose of censorship before hitting store shelves.
These are the supposed changes made to the German version of COD: Black Ops:
- A scene where an enemy is shot in slow motion with copious amounts of gore has been toned down for the German release.- A torture scene involving a prisoner has been completely eliminated from the German version.- The song “Sympathy for the Devil”, made famous by the Rolling Stones, has been removed.- No explosions that lead to limb loss.- Removal of what Germany deems ‘anti-constitutional symbols’.
Although this is not surprising, German gamers hungry for uncensored experiences have always circumvented this measure in other games by buying either the U.S. or U.K. retail version of the game instead. Apparently this method does not work for Black Ops. Any retail copy of Black Ops bought outside of Germany will not function on German PC systems, even though the country shares the same PAL display type as its EU cousins.
Plan B, then, would be to fire up a U.K. or U.S. Steam account and download the game that way. Not so fast, says Activision. Steam will only authorize fully-localized German versions of the game on German systems. Since anyone with a passing knowledge of Windows knows how to change their computer's time-zone and region-settings, this level of authentication must be at the IP-localization level.
German rating authority USK assigns age-ratings in much the same way our ESRB does. Where the systems differ is in the level of sensitivity applied by the board when rating these games. Games featuring Nazi imagery outside of historical context, or gratuitous amounts of blood-letting are sent to The Index and given an 18+ age rating. Once a game is in The Index it cannot be advertised in Germany. Publishers always want to avoid hitting The Index since not be able to advertise a product spells instant profit-loss, so they protect themselves and their investment by enforcing stricter-than-usual censoring techniques before applying for an age-certification from the USK.
It's an unfortunate situation for both publisher and developer. Activision would not want to leave Black Ops in its current state for Germany if that also meant having to hide it from sight and sell it only to those 18+ adults that specifically asked for it.
Call of Duty: Black Ops launches in US, EU and Australia on November 9th, 2010 for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and PC