News Article

Annoyed About Age Restrictions On The Euro Wii U eShop? Blame Germany

Posted by Damien McFerran

Upholding the law

Nintendo has confirmed that the time-based age restriction on the Wii U eShop - which prevents 18+ titles being purchased outside of a four-hour window at night - is down to German law.

Speaking to Eurogamer, a Nintendo Europe spokesperson had this to say:

At Nintendo we always aim to provide a safe gaming experience for fans of all ages and ensure that we comply with applicable legal age restriction requirements across Europe. Legal age restriction requirements vary across a number of European countries. Since Nintendo of Europe is based in Germany, Nintendo eShop is complying with German youth protection regulation which therefore applies to all our European markets. Under German law, content rated 18+ must be made available only at night. Therefore the accessibility of 18+ content in Nintendo eShop is limited to [USK: 22:00 UTC until 4:00 UTC] [PEGI: 23:00 UTC until 3:00 UTC].

In case you were wondering, USK is the abbreviation of Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle, the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body responsible for rating video games in Germany. The UK is controlled by PEGI.

[via eurogamer.net]

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User Comments (75)

Void

#1

Void said:

"This is madness!"
"Madness? THIS. IS. GERMANY.(or was it Australia?)YOU CANNOT BEAT US." (And that 'USK' abbreviation is certainly a mouthful.)

madgear

#2

madgear said:

I still blame Nintendo over Germany. Considering Germany is a country with a hostile attitude to games and some ridiculous censorship laws, it should have been the last place Nintendo considered for setting up office in Europe.

Chunky_Droid

#5

Chunky_Droid said:

Well there you go.

Seems odd that they can't have different services available for different regions? Nintendo of Australia probably won't have these restrictions once our R18+ rating comes on, and most of our services are run by Nintendo of Europe.

belmont

#6

belmont said:

I live in Greece. Why should I be affected by German gaming laws?
Also why PSN and other similar services are not affected?

The blame is 100% on Nintendo for other PAL territories, except Germany.

3dbrains

#7

3dbrains said:

I dont see a problem. If you want it, you'll wait and download it. It's not like you can only play the game after 11pm. Only problem I see is that after that time, I am still unable to download r18 games. Its like it has totally locked me,out, cant even,view details.
Stupid law but it keeps the kids away from the download. I used to live in Germany, nice place.

Guybrush20X6

#8

Guybrush20X6 said:

Still no excuse, the codes can be different for other European companies. I have a feeling Nintendo won't don anything unless the companies who make the games pull the European versions until this is fixed.

Mk_II

#9

Mk_II said:

told you it was a legal matter. Nintendo of Europe is a GmbH, ie a German company and German companies have to abide German laws.

ZueriHB

#10

ZueriHB said:

That doesn't explain why PEGI content is only available for 4 hours, while USK content is available for 6 hours!

Cipher

#11

Cipher said:

@madgear Nintendo set up shop in Europe long before any other major video game developer, and long before any German laws were written to explicitly involve video game censorship. But yeah, damn them to hell for not being able to see 22 years into the future.

@belmont PSN isn't affected because Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is based in the UK. Same for XBLA and Microsoft Studios Europe. They are UK companies - ignore the name, it's the location of the registered office that matters - and thankfully we don't have any daft laws over here (well, where games are concerned, anyway).

The fact of the matter is this: Nintendo's servers are in Germany. It's alright saying "move them elsewhere," but the head office is in Germany, and it'd be a logistical nightmare for Nintendo if the servers were anywhere else. As things stand now, it would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for Nintendo to obtain permission to allow this content at all times of day in other countries because the fact still remains that it's on German servers. As a result, it's under German jurisdiction, and if the law dictates that it doesn't just apply to the people of Germany - it might, I've no idea - then Nintendo has to abide by that or suffer possible legal consequences.

MCL

#12

MCL said:

The funny thing about this is that this currently only affects ZombiU in Germany, AssCreed 3 is rated 16+ and can be bought anytime.

Origin also had this restriction some time ago, but they introduced legally valid age verification. Hopefully Nintendo will do this too at some point in the future.

It still doesn't explain why services like PSN or XBL don't have these restrictions, they also have to comply with German law if they're selling content there. And they do that, because "forbidden" games aren't available for purchase, but you can buy available 18+ games anytime.

madgear

#13

madgear said:

@Cipher that's still 22 years to change and adapt their operations. They have offices in the UK, you know. Why they don't use that as their online base I don't know. Perhaps they get to avoid taxes at the expense of us gamers.

DarkCoolEdge

#14

DarkCoolEdge said:

"Funny", it's surprising how Germany keeps messing with all Europe, even about games. Stupid laws, what aee parents for?

bobbysanders

#15

bobbysanders said:

I was going to buy a Wii u for Christmas but I vow never to give Nintendo a penny again. Censorship is a disgusting practise and something every free man, woman and child should resist with every fibre of their being. Out of principle you have just lost a customer for supporting this Nintendo.

Ed_Rod

#17

Ed_Rod said:

Nintendo is a big boy they're totally to blame for this, they should have just created a different eShop for the rest of Europe.

Ernest_The_Crab

#18

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@madgear You're off about the amount of time they have had to make changes. They haven't had any real online shop in awhile in regards to DL titles. Factoring in the increasing popularity of downloading titles which wasn't too long ago, and any financial woes recently make this a fairly tough change to make quickly. I doubt their servers are too old either so they can't really use the excuse of replacing old servers.

That being said, we may see a change in location from Nintendo due to the new tax breaks from the UK.

It's especially funny to see comments from people judging against companies especially when they're lacking the business know how to comment on their decisions in the first place, though I guess plenty of people have a rather simplistic, ego-centric view of the world.

MCL

#20

MCL said:

To anyone comparing this to fascism: the one thing that will always be censored in Germany outside of art/documentaries is fascist symbolism or propaganda. That comparison is stupid.
Also: I must have missed the memo about Germany having jurisdiction over other countries, Nintendo could've found an alternative if they so desired.

McHaggis

#21

McHaggis said:

'Blame Germany'
Why? A simple IP check against a geolocation database could deny that content to only German citizens, they don't even need to create a whole new eShop. I've set a similar system up before and it took me less than 3 hours.

This isn't Germany's fault, they've had their laws in place long enough for companies to anticipate these kinds of problems.

KromCompany

#22

KromCompany said:

Das ist schlect! Ah, Germany, you exist to disappoint many. Good thing I live in the United States.

edhe

#23

edhe said:

Don't let's be beastly to the Germans.

Also, I thought this WASN'T a law yet. Or are they trying to push it through?

Nintendo of Europe: PULL THE **** OUT OF GERMANY!!

DemonnPrincess

#24

DemonnPrincess said:

OMG it is not that big of a deal. If you want to buy an 18+ game, then get on the Wii U Shop on the time it allows and download it. Well...it's not a big deal to ME, but it might be a HUGE deal for the people upset, so I don't wanna sound insensitive, but it's okay. It's for the safety of the kids who's parents are too lazy or don't know how to set the parental controls(if there are any). It's like how Japan will not allow YouTube on the 3DS: They said that too much content is already flowing through handheld devices, which I agree with and respect 100%. :)

Sean_Aaron

#25

Sean_Aaron said:

This still doesn't explain why Assassins Creed III is covered by the watershed in the UK when it apparently doesn't apply in Germany, nor does it explain why Nintendo doesn't state this anywhere in the eShop. If you're going to restrict the times of access then you should bloody well STATE WHAT THE FREAKING HOURS ARE!

Dambuster

#27

Dambuster said:

@bobbysanders totally agree, I had spare cash for a wii u this weekend, but after finding out about this bonkers policy I took my cash else where! vote with your wallet! FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!

AmishThunder

#28

AmishThunder said:

@bobbysanders If you're going to ban Nintendo for supporting the laws of the country they're based in, here's a list of other companies that are based in Germany that you can also avoid for "supporting" censorship: Merck and Bayer (you'll be fine without medicine!), Adidas, Puma, Mercedes, Audi, BMW, VW, and the Deutsche Bank (you should probably avoid any business that ties with this bank as you don't want your money to get back to them!) You should probably avoid chocolate all together just to be safe.

Araknie

#29

Araknie said:

I think they will soon add, in the next or the one after, update and done deal.

Things are becoming too much internet based in this world.

Einherjar

#30

Einherjar said:

I called it -.- It was our stupid law system all over agein sigh Why must this country be so idiotic ? The USK is one of the most blatantly stupid regulation bodys out there. Just look up their censorship work. Its really abysmal...
Is there some way to petition against that decision ? Even if its just for other european countrys. If germany keeps being stupid in that department, than it at least be stupid alone

Eldir

#31

Eldir said:

So just because Germany wants it the rest of us gotta take it?

That is the biggest piece of bull I've ever heard.

Why aren't the NoE HQ in the UK anyway? Why be in Germany?

DarkMarkBe

#32

DarkMarkBe said:

Might I remind some of the more ambitious commentators to please not mix up "censorship" with "protection of minors". "Censored" games would not be available for purchase anywhere in germany (even online and / or at night), while 18+ rated titles are not allowed to be publicly promoted and sold to minors.

I just wanted to make sure you all get the right impression. Yes, this might suck. But no, germany is not the ultimate threat to peace, prosperity and free speech in this universe...

Doma

#34

Doma said:

“which therefore applies to all our European markets”

Wat, why exactly...? who's dumb enough to accept this reasoning. It's Nintendo's decision to enforce this outside Germany. It may be hard for the company loyalists to accept, but Nintendo are clearly the ones to blame here.

blizzz

#35

blizzz said:

I'm from Germany and I've never heard of this law. This is just ridiculous... How come no other service has to abide to it?

KeeperBvK

#36

KeeperBvK said:

What with all the comments about censorship. There is no censorship here, people! You are free to download those games, so they are not censored. Plus, the guy here you said that the USK censors anything? Da Heck? They just give age ratings, just like PEGI, ESRB and such. Also, the only people censoring games here are the developers and publishers themselves, in case they don't want their games to get too high of an age rating. They very same thing happens in pretty much any country.
Australians for example used to be unable to purchase ANY games that had a simple "adult" rating for games. Such a thing never existed here in Germany, even "banned" games like Quake, Doom and such could still be bought by those of the age of 18 or upwards. Only a handful of games have ever been illegal to sell here, and even then it was still legal to merely possess them.
And what about that guy here saying that Japan had lax censorship laws? They had issues with GTA 3 and other games, but most blatantly, they censor porn unlike any other country in the world. So they allow gore in their games and that means that the country as a whole is lax on censorship? Hell, even adults simply cannot get to see a vagina or a wang in any movies or magazines. Now THAT is some REAL censorship right there. And what about the USA? What about their censorship of ANYTHING that's even in the slightest sexual? Hot Coffee mod in GTA? "Oh, boohoo, my kids are going to be terribly affected by a guy fully clad in pants and a shirt dry humping a low-polygon chick. He'd better get back to shooting people in the head."

Bass_X0

#37

Bass_X0 said:

Why aren't the NoE HQ in the UK anyway? Why be in Germany?

Germany is in Europe too. Why does it have to be the U.K.?

while 18+ rated titles are not allowed to be publicly promoted and sold to minors.

Which is fine for Germany because its required. But outside of Germany its not required. A simpler and fairer method could be used such as parental controls. Our problem is that Nintendo are making the rest of Europe abide by Germany's laws.

madgear

#38

madgear said:

@ThePillowGolem Well, to be fair, you don't know who I am any more than I know who you are. For all you know I could be the CEO of a multinational corporation. I'm not, but you can't just assume I don't know what I'm talking about just because I post on a Nintendo forum.

It's true that digital sales is a more recent thing, but it hasn't sprung up over night and they should have set something up in place. Perhaps having their UK offices as their base for online content. I've been aware of Germany's video game issues since the original Resident Evil debuted on PlayStation. A games company, being based in a country where the politicians are strongly against video games should have raised alarm bells long ago.

It's all very well talking about the cost of moving location, but a lot of people really arn't happy about this, third party developers are really not going to be happy about this. Indie developers may not release content here at all. What's worse? Setting up alternative premises or no one buying your product? I'd hate for anyone in Germany to lose their job, especially with economy as it is, but if they don't fix it then that could be a possibility anyway. Time will tell how successful the Wii U will be, but if gamers arn't happy they won't buy, regardless of how much you don't think it's a big deal.

Bass_X0

#39

Bass_X0 said:

You are free to download those games, so they are not censored.

Yes they are. Only being available at night is a form of censorship. I'm sure you've heard of the term 'watershed'. The games are banned from being downloaded during the day.

DemonnPrincess

#40

DemonnPrincess said:

@KeeperBvK omg thank you (about the Japan comment). I am part Japanese and take great pride in my country. To have someone say it has "lax" censorship makes the entire country seem like a bunch of half wits. It makes it seem like they are the "Hey, come here if you wanna get away with all the stuff you can't in your country!" people, and they are not like that.

Nintendo-64

#42

Nintendo-64 said:

Oh my god! So much stupidity here. Can the majority here please start to use their brains!?! What is the problem with downloading 18+ titles just after 23 o clock? Just download it that time and then you can play it as much as you can. If i hear censorship in terms of germany i just just think about to facepalm. Censorship and youth protecting are two completly different things. No content is censored,the time when you can buy the software is just restricted so that children can not so easy get in contact with not suitable content.

@KeeperBvk You are right. The thinking that it is censorship and that germany is to blame for everything that happens in the world is just stupid.

Scollurio

#43

Scollurio said:

germany really. Sony and MS also have their respective headquarters for europe in germany and don't give a hoot.
If you're a minor you're only rightfully able to view my comment after 11pm in the night, when youre parents are sleeping.

edhe

#44

edhe said:

@Nintendo-664

Ah, this invalid argument again. Simply put, not everyone is able to download at eleven oclock at night. Ironically, people with an adult life and the responsibilities that go with it.

Also ironically, Germany, the architect of these laws get an extra 2 hours (22:00 - 4:00), while we are restricted to just 4 hours.

“Therefore the accessibility of 18+ content in Nintendo eShop is limited to [USK: 22:00 UTC until 4:00 UTC] [PEGI: 23:00 UTC until 3:00 UTC].” Eurogamer

edhe

#46

edhe said:

NO! Adults with jobs need to get up early in the morning and can't stay up 'til 1:00 AM downloading games.

And as for adults with a night job, they'll be working during that time window.

blizzz

#47

blizzz said:

These rules are a problem. If you have to get up early for your job you don't want to stay up late to download a game. Also, forcing this rule on adults is just plain stupid. Any kid could take the controller to their room and buy it in the morning. That rule doesn't solve any problem, it just creates inconvenience and money loss for the devs. With proper parenting this wouldn't be needed.

But still, it's not censorship just a failed attempt at protecting children. Saying "f... germany" or stuff like that is just plain stupid.

manic221

#48

manic221 said:

@Chunky_Droid Well then they will Australia like every other company in the game industry is monitored by the EU side of buisness meaning you'll have the same stupid restrictions we do because your servers are European servers...

By your logic the UK shoudn't fall under this either as we have one of the most laid back rating system in the world and we are rated by PEGI and still we have to deal with a time lock system.

theblackdragonAdmin

#49

theblackdragon said:

it's not hard to implement an age verification system that would appease adult gamers. hopefully Nintendo will implement something along those lines for EU, at least if they plan to actually make anything from digital sales of 18+ games.

that said, everyone, please chill with the WWII crap and general Germany-bashing — i know we're upset but we have plenty of German users who have had nothing to do with this law or may find it silly that it's being implemented outside Germany in the first place. why blame the little guys when Nintendo are the ones at fault?

Dambuster

#50

Dambuster said:

The kids Nintendo use to make the wii u in china, work all the way through the night, but as long as kids in Europe don't see a zombie, every thing is ok. They don't care about children when they pay them a $1 week!

ClockworkMario

#51

ClockworkMario said:

@Dambuster Any proof on child labour or just mindless speculation?

That restriction is absurd. There are very simple ways to block content for Germany only, but they decide to punish the rest of Europe as well.

SKTTR

#53

SKTTR said:

I remember the Wii Shop where 18+ games like Shinobi, Toribash and Stop Stress weren't available at all.
Now I'm just glad that 18+ games are finally available in the German eShops, even if it's just for 4 hours each day. A small step, but good for us Germans anyway.

But yeah, Nintendo should add the times so people are aware. An error message looks like an error message.

And if I couldn't stay up until 11pm I would buy ZombiU on retail or ask someone to download it for me or wait until the weekend.
I guess many users complaining here are under 18 yrs anyway.

Tindre

#54

Tindre said:

what stops kids from staying up late and buying the games exactly? ^^''

ShadJV

#55

ShadJV said:

Exactly what I said, there was probably legal reasons for the decisions, NOT just Nintendo trying to uphold their family friendly image. Still sucks either way, hopefully it changes.

LeasTwanteD

#56

LeasTwanteD said:

Glad to see someone's thinking of the children ...
Untitled
Take that, America, we can have stupid laws too! B-)

adrenochrome

#57

adrenochrome said:

strange that the only hours mentioned in usk pdf are
16+ : 22h-06h
18+ : 23h-06h
anyway it's a very stupid law :/
anyone living in Germany can confirm that this restriction is only for video games and not for, eg, paying porn tv channel ?

ElFlorro

#59

ElFlorro said:

Honestly people! Blame Germany? WTF?
Gaming aside, some pepole don't even seem to know anything about Germany... that's really sad.
Germany holds Europe together. Commercially & politically.
Why do you think so many companies built their headquarters here and not in the UK? Don't get me wrong, I love the UK but it's an island where they haven't even the Euro. So what?

Hawker

#60

Hawker said:

Nothing stopping anyone from just going to a store & buying the games on a disc, it's the same price & won't take up any space on the Wii U's hard drive. Unless it's a download only title I don't see what the big deal is, you can still get the game.

adrenochrome

#61

adrenochrome said:

"Under German law, content rated 18+ must be made available only at night."
so zombiU is not available in UK&D shops ? are there really games-shops that are opened in the "legal" window ? or this game has to be sell in sex-shops ?

Bass_X0

#62

Bass_X0 said:

Don't get me wrong, I love the UK but it's an island where they haven't even the Euro.

Because we don't want to lose our identity. And what does us being an island or the colour of our money got to do with anything?

ultraraichu

#64

ultraraichu said:

It funny how so many people complain about downloading a M rated game around a certain time is so troublesome and play the blame game, but only 2 or 3 people viewed the alternatives. Like downloading the game on your night off (unless you work 7 night a week including holidays) or better yet buy the disc in stores or online. Many are complaining like they can't escape an unlock cage.

It's like Hawker said "unless it's a download only title I don't see what the big deal is, you can still get the game".

Btw censorship would be more like not releasing the game in the eshop (or even as disc) in Europe or editing contents ingame for the country like what they did with No More Heroes to make it safer.

Bluezealand

#65

Bluezealand said:

Guys, you don't really get this law and I bet, every European country has similiar laws. This law isn't only for games, it's for all visual media content, which has to get rated (also movies and stuff), so that a TV station can't show the Saw movies at 1PM.

And this law is ONLY active, if there isn't some kind of age verification implemented. With Pay TV channels in Germany you have a PIN code, if they are showing adult stuff or porn at certain times. Nintendo could have easily done that, too. I bet all European countries have such laws, so stop blaming Germany!

@adrenochrome:
You can get every game, legally at every time in every shop. The difference between the eShop and local shops is, that in local shops the staff members are responsible for what they sell to minors. They are the ones to blame, if inappropriate content gets in the hands of children.
Online shops use different age verification systems, which are (most of the time) only needed with the first order, fast and free of charge.

adrenochrome

#66

adrenochrome said:

@ Bluezealand : i perfectly understand what you are explaining but i was thinking that Nintendo did use some kind of age verification (according to the undeletable parental control channel)

If all what you say is exact, using a profile of a 3 year old child i will be able to download(but not to play) zombiu between 23h and 03h ?
i completely agree that it's not a German specific problem, but Nintendo did a really toughtless implementation of the european laws

Bluezealand

#67

Bluezealand said:

@adrenochrome: I'm pretty sure, minors, who actually declared their real age in their account, can't buy inappropriate content at all. The problem is, you can't really proof, if the age is a lie or not and even their parental control channel is only optional. There are many parents, who just don't care.

What Nintendo could have done, is some kind of age verification based on your ID or Credit Card. But there is no system, which would work in every country, so it would have been a huge amount of work for Nintendo, to implement a working system for each country.
I for one understand, that they did avoid that.

Henmii

#68

Henmii said:

Germany also refuses to use PEGI. Instead they use USK. You know, those awesome BIG logo's you also find on limited editions nowadays! Good show!

jkshaz

#73

jkshaz said:

Hard to believe that all of Europe is being held hostage because of one parties laws. Seems like a bad solution. For those of you suggesting there are other ways to obtain these games (ie physical copies) and therefore people should stop complaining, while a very fair point does not invalidate that this EU system of digital distribution (reportedly due to Germany's laws) is not really a great solution for an entire continent.

mozie

#74

mozie said:

Who ever thinks this isin't going to have a negative impact in some way is only fooling themselves, it will take a while to see the effects but lets just wait and see how many eshop titles fail to come to europe as a result of this silly decision/law. while nintendo may be complying to german laws, I'am sure there are numerous ways around this. Nintendo really don't seem to get the whole online thing at all do they, always shooting themselves in the foot. As much as it pains me to say it, ill be using psn & xbla predominantly for digital content, apart from eshop exclusives (none of which will be rated 18)

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