The fact that German customers get modified versions of video games, is not news. More or less since video games have existed, developers chose to self-censor their works for the legally difficult German market. Just like the infamous censorship of turning humans into robots, one would also think that the no less curious habit of coloring blood green is a thing of the past. The joke about this colorful instance of censorship made in the The Simpsons Game released in 2007 would not work so well in today’s context.

But even in 2016 this censorship was applied at least once. An anachronism which makes one wonder. Developer Pixel Hero Games colors the blood green for German customers of Eisenhorn: XENOS, an action adventure set in the Warhammer 40K universe. Strictly speaking, it does not really affect German customers, but likely all who use German operating system settings. Like with NotCOD, specific regional settings (date/time format, keyboard layout, system area schema) are probably abused for this matter. However, the exact means of identification remain uncertain. The only available language of the game is English.

Pixel Hero Team
The green blood is for Germany only, as there are different restrictions for violent content in games we have to follow there.

The developers claim that this change is necessary to avoid a 18+ rating in Germany, especially on other platforms. It is pointed out that this form of censorship allegedly has long been common practice for the German market. Eisenhorn: XENOS is supposedly not particularly brutal, just blood and few instances of “non-realistic dismemberment”, which is why the changes do not affect a core element of the game. They express being sorry in regards to the customer’s feelings of being mislead (there is no censorship warning on the store site, despite being common practice) and are surprised at the discontent: “honestly it’s not anything we expected anyone to feel upset about”. The refund option of Steam is suggested. Another user’s review criticizes the censorship: “THIS IS MORE THAN IRKSOME and does a disservice to the atmosphere”. In addition, the user suspects that the sound of broken necks are censored.

It is doubtful whether the color of a liquid really makes any difference in terms of an age rating or if this is just an urban legend nowadays. It’s clear the times have changed. First-person shooters Battlefield 1 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive even pass with a 16+ rating. All with red lifeblood. Certainly, the game’s setting and context are not 100% comparable, each title has to be examined individually, though it is difficult to imagine the blood color could have made any difference here or in any of today’s 18+ games. The procedure reminds one of Gemini: Heroes Reborn, which had minimal amounts of blood removed to make the lower 16+ rating certain.

The censorship based on system settings is questionable in itself and presumably would not hold its grounds before the USK: the uncensored version would still be available on the disk or in the game files and should be decisive for the board’s decision.

The USK itself did not rate the game yet, apparently, as there is no entry in their public database. Unlike occasionally observed, there is also no fabricated rating in the Steam Store; only the red metacritic score is reminiscent of a USK logo. However, in the Google Play store, there is actually a USK 18 rating on display (“Explicit Violence”), which was obviously obtained through a questionnaire in the IARC process. IARC ratings are not equated with the actual administrative act of a USK rating. The IARC rating of the European PEGI is 16+. A ” 12+” is shown in the iTunes Store; Apple does not support IARC. We have no information on the color of blood in those versions.

We thank our freezing_rain for the hint to this news.


Note: This article was first published in our Steam group.