Electronic Arts has lashed out at the German regulatory and ratings body recently, saying outright that the German government should abandon the USK and move to the PEGI rating system.
Germany has some very strict laws on what can and cannot be shown in games, with a zero blood policy in place that forces many developers to create bespoke versions of their games for the German market. Other games, like Gears of War 2
, just don't get released in Germany instead.
The comments come from EA Europe boss Gerhard Florin, who accused the USK of being nothing more than outright censorship and being largely redundant. Instead, he suggests that the PEGI system should be put in place instead, allowing developers and publishers more control of how their games are rated.
"What we're doing here is censorship,
" Florin said in an interview with Spiegel Online
, "And no one complains.
"When we talk about games here it's about violence or their alleged addictiveness, and not about their cultural status. The few good studios are asking themselves why they should stay here anyway.
USK boss Marek Brunner has disagreed however and said that there are no plans to even consider moving to a new ratings system in the foreseeable future. Speaking to Eurogamer.de, he also said suggested that it was short-sighted to consider changing the USK without anticipating the effect it would have on the greater legal system through other agencies, like the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons.
The issue of violent games in Germany is certainly an important one though. Out at GamesCom 2009 recently we heard one German journalist ask Sega if there were any plans to release a toned-down version of the grisly AVP for Germany
. The response was a flat no and that, if the USK rejected the game, it simply would not be available in Germany. The German journalists all shrugged and said they'd just import it from Austria.
What are your thoughts on the USK and the ratings system in your country? Let us know in the forums