Wolfenstein: Youngblood will be the first Wolfenstein game containing Nazi imagery to escape censorship in Germany.
Previous iterations of Bethesda Softworks’ alternate-history first-person shooter were censored in Germany, due to stringent laws banning Nazi imagery. However, in 2018, a change in German law meant that USK, Germany’s rating agency, was given the leeway to judge videogames containing Nazi imagery such as swastikas on a case-by-case basis.
Bethesda announced the about-turn from the German authorities on its German forum, saying (originally in German): “We are pleased to announce that Wolfenstein: Youngblood and the VR subsidiary Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot will be released for the first time as an international version in Germany on Friday, July 26, 2019 parallel to the German-language version.”
In other words, a censored version specially developed for the German marketwill still be released alongside the full international version in the country – Bethesda, understandably, hedged its bets with a parallel development programme, given the German censorship of previous Wolfenstein games. The post continues: “The USK’s first-time assessment of this version was made possible by a change in USK’s testing practice, which takes into account the so-called social adequacy clause of Section 86a (3) of the Criminal Code (StGB). However, since the release is always an individual case decision based on the final product, the development continued on both versions, which will be released at the same time. These are each independent developments. For this reason, a conversion from the German version to the original international version and vice versa is not possible.”
Wolfenstein: Youngblood’s official FAQ page still says: “Will the German version be sanitized? Yes, all assets and the game will be fully sanitized.” But the USK’s decision means that German gamers will be able to buy the English-language version, with its swastika imagery intact.