In the past, games with any sort of Nazi imagery had to be altered before they could be released in Germany. However, this will not be the case with the next Wolfenstein game. Bethesda has confirmed that the Wolfenstein Youngblood German release will not be altered in that country.
In a statement on its forums, Bethesda has confirmed that German players would be able to purchase the same unaltered version of Wolfenstein Youngblood that would be coming to the rest of the world. This is thanks to a change in regulations that happened in Germany last year.
Back in August of 2018, the German government finally allowed its software regulatory body, the USK, to give age ratings for the first time since 1992. Prior to the change, Bethesda actually prepared a version of Wolfenstein Youngblood with altered Nazi imagery. The publisher will still be releasing this version in Germany, alongside the unaltered international version.
Interestingly enough, the German regulations were put in place in 1992 due to the original Wolfenstein 3D. The controversial presence of Nazi imagery in that game caused German courts to issue a ruling that disallowed it in games.
In an interview with GamesIndustry last year, Felix Falk, head of the German video game trade body Game, attributed the change in policy in part due to how the perception of video games has changed in Germany. “It’s two things. One is the legal perception of it. The second is the perception of games in society, and there we have taken huge steps,” he says. “Right now, in Germany, the discussion around the potential of games is much more open than in other countries, which have been ahead in the last years.”
Of course, the change doesn’t mean any game with Nazi imagery will now be allowed in Germany. The USK will still review games on a case-by-case basis, and German law prohibits the production and exhibition of pro-Nazi content. That said, this doesn’t seem like something that any future Wolfenstein games will have a problem with.
For comparison, MachineGames’ Wolfenstein games were changed for Germany. New Order and Old Blood changed Nazi logos to the Wolfenstein logo and switched all mentions of Nazis to “The Regime.” MachineGames also shaved Hitler’s mustache in The New Colossus.