Epic Games’ Gears of War, one of the most keenly awaited Xbox 360 exclusive titles this year, will not be officially released in Germany according to a statement from Microsoft, following a decision by the notoriously strict Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) not to age rate the game.
As well as falling foul of German laws governing the use of Nazi imagery in the media, video games are regularly sanitized or denied a release in the country on the grounds of violence. Epic Games could have opted to have created an alternate version of the game for the German market, but, according to Microsoft, the changes needed would have been too severe and would not have been compatible with other international versions on Xbox Live.
The lack of an official USK rating does not mean the game is banned from sale in Germany though, merely that Microsoft is not allowed to advertise it and shops are not allowed to display it openly. However, the game will be available “under the counter” in certain stores, while committed German games fans are used to importing uncensored versions of games from elsewhere in Europe.
Gears of War is the second major Xbox 360 exclusive to be denied a rating in Germany this year, after Capcom’s Dead Rising.