Wolfenstein: Youngblood, the upcoming FPS about girls, guns, and the things they do to Nazis, will be the first game in the long-running series to be released uncensored in Germany. Previous games in the series (and others) have had to scrub Nazi imagery in order to comply with German laws, but a change implemented in 2018 enabled the country's USK rating agency to consider games on a case-by-case basis.
The announcement was first made on Bethesda's German forum, and then confirmed via email in an English-language statement saying that the international version of the game will be released in Germany. Interestingly, an edition intended specifically for the German market was developed "in parallel" with the international version (these things take time, and Bethesda couldn't have known which way the decision would go), and will also be released in the country. In fact, despite the announcement, the Wolfenstein: Youngblood FAQ still states that the German release "will be fully sanitized."
The inclusion of swastikas was enabled by the "social adequacy clause" introduced into German law last year that allows rating agencies to consider Nazi symbols and related imagery in videogames based on their artistic merit. That's what makes it a significant change: The presence of swastikas or a ridiculous mustache may not have any practical bearing on the gunfire and explosions, but the recognition of videogames as an artistic medium on par with movies and television effectively elevates them from second-class status, a perception that I think is still fairly common among mainstream audiences.
"Many games produced by creative, dedicated developers address sensitive topics such as the Nazi era in Germany, and they do so in a responsible way that encourages reflection and critical thinking," the German Games Industry Association said last year when the new regulation was introduced. "The interactive nature of games makes them uniquely qualified to spark contemplation and debate, and they reach younger generations like no other medium can."
Wolfenstein: Youngblood comes out on July 26. Spend a few minutes with our preview to find out more about this new round of interesting things to do with a hatchet and a Nazi.