Return to Castle Alteration

By Maarten Goldstein, Dec 05, 2001 1:42pm PST XGR is citing an unnamed source concering the alteration of the German version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The German version, due out this week, will have a cult called The Wolves instead of Nazis, and Heinrich Himmler is called Heinrich Höller. I contacted id CEO Todd Hollenshead about this and here is what he had to say on the matter.

As you probably know (since you're not all that far away), you cannot legally sell a game in Germany where you fight Nazis. That type of content, along with Swastikas, the Deathshead symbol, and lots of other Nazi iconography is strictly taboo there: it's effectively the *legal* equivalent to a drug like marijuana here in the U.S. It would be illegal to sell, or even possess any game that contained that content. So the real choice for RTCW for the German market is to either change the content, or simply not sell it.

None of this is any secret to the German gaming press or consumers, as I've had numerous discussions with the magazines there about content modifications required for the German market. They know the rules and the laws and understand the situation with the game.

While I may disagree with the German ban on Nazi iconography (the easiest way to allow history to repeat itself is to forget your mistakes, imo), I respect their unique situation and their sensitivities to the subject matter. I also have no desire to encourage our distribution partners to knowingly and willfully violate local laws that carry stiff penalties. I know at least some of our fans in Germany would like to play the U.S. version of the game, but I believe they would prefer to play a "German" version to playing no Wolfenstein at all. And I'm certain that gamers in Germany understand the local distribution issues better than at least one website ;-)

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  • Some clarifications:
    It is not illegal in Germany to import and to posses RtCW for using it privately. Activision isn't allowed to publish it and dealers aren't allowed to sell it though.

    Of course swasticas and stuff are in our history books (and certainly German students learn more about the Third Reich than students in most other countries) they are also allowed in art: I have seen them on German TV not only in proper WW2 movies but also in Indiana Jones, Hogan's Heros and Southpark.
    Unfortunately computer games aren't considerd as art. I don't like it either but it isn't that bad: I posses the US version of RtCW here in Germany and I do so legally.

    Now to those high and mighty patriotic US-Americans. A few small questions, with easy to find answers:
    Guess who won WW2? Guess who lost WW2? Guess which of both parties occupied the country of the other one for more than 40 years? Guess who constructed the constitution and first basic laws of the occupied country?

  • I was able to import RTCW into Germany, it was even checked by customs.



    BTW, RTCW is just one example of the suckage caused by localization and censorship. Most Germans apparently love or at least don't mind censorship for the sake of political correctness (movies on TV and in the cinemas are censored on a regular basis WITHOUT TELLING YOU SO, for example Robocop has just 78 minutes on TV). Most international companies try to force you to use localized and censored versions of their stuff which always loses some or most of the fun if you know the original language.

    Thanks to the German government for trying to protect people from RTCW because seeing Nazi symbols while killing them certainly makes people Nazis. By that way of "intelligent" thinking, I guess all the allied forces must have become Nazis.

    Can I please swap citizenships with that John Walker dude or Warren Beatty or some other disgruntled American?