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Germany's Video Game Politics And Why It Matters to the US Market

The upcoming election in Germany is in full throttle and the Christian Conservative Family Minister 'von der Leyen' wants to ban all First Person Shooters, neither sold nor produced in GER. This could lead to an increase of piracy and major sales losses.

Adam Beckett

June 8, 2009

3 Min Read

The upcoming election in Germany is in full throttle and the Christian Conservative Familiy Minister Ursula von der Leyen wants to ban all First Person Shooters not to be sold or produced in Germany. This could lead to an increase of piracy and major sales losses.


Besides the fact that this has to go through a legislative process (Germany's 'Bundestag' = House of Congress) and that it is still not sure, if it will fly, the consequences could lead to more piracy.


Germany has a dense high-speed internet infrastructure and piracy and torrent-traffic is even higher than in Sweden. 


If german kids and adults have no way to import or buy online one of the top selling genres, the piracy will increase dramatically and it might even decrease the total sales of FPS up to 10% or more, hurting the us-video game industry in a time of recession.


Germany videogames + console revenue in total for 2008 was about 2,6 Milliarden Euro (3,6049 billion U.S. dollars). Until 2012 will grow another 10% says PriceWaterhouseCooper http://geschlossene-fonds.wallstreet-online.de/nachricht/2501013.html


Another consequence would be, that every company inside Germany's borders who are making or producing games with highly violent content - they call them 'Killer-Games' instead of First Person Shooters, resembling with the shootings in the German Schools last year and in the past - would commit a felony and would be prosecuted ending in jail. This sounds unbelievable but the chances that they could pass a law are not that small. "The German Trade Association of Interactive Entertainmet Software BIU" http://www.biu-online.de/verband/mitglieder/ include Microsoft, EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and many others and the bigger institution called "German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media" (BITCOM e.V) http://www.bitkom.org/en/Default.aspx are the only yet weak Associations, who are either struggling or not willing to spend money and start lobbing or public campaigns. 


There are grassroot protests by citizens, mostly avid video game players who are trying to gather demonstrations and online-petitions. The success of this is rather limited, since the majority of the german voters are conservative and the arguments are always heavily mixed with ideological rants and issues like 'internet child pornography'. The posibility of rational discussions in german media is limited, since they are rather avoiding the topic or accusing 'lovers' of violent video games as a 'sick' minority.


And we, of course, speak about the already censored german versions, which often have neither blood nor death-animations, or soldiers in game are exchanged by robots (see Valve's orig. Half Life, German Version). Still the topic of 'Killer-Games' is one of the major themes in this major election and politicians throughout different parties are willing to gain some votes, even if this would mean companies like Crytek would leave the country.


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