Officials from the German VUD (Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland) video game trade body have announced the organization is to be closed down, following a committee meeting earlier this month. The VUD was formed in 1993, and has played a similar organization and advocacy role to the British ELSPA and American ESA organizations. The final and official dissolution date of the organization seems to be March 31st, 2005.
However, the Berlin-based USK ratings board, originally co-created by the VUD back in 1994, will continue its German game ratings task, according to the German edition of industry magazine MCV. The USK, a rough equivalent of the American ESRB, helps decide the standards that German game publishers must pass in order to have their product sold to minors, and specifies an age rating for each game released in the German market. However, in extreme cases, the official German BPJS government ratings board will ban a game entirely.
No reason for the VUD's closure was given, and this effectively leaves Europe’s second largest games market, after the UK, without a dedicated trade association. The closure of the organization’s offices will result in the loss of four full time staff members, including general manager Ronald Schaefer.