Bargain Thread 2023

Also, the Mother of All ERP Zones, if that’s your thing.

Dying Light (2016) is free on Epic. Great game. If you never played it, go git it.

Which Dead/Dark/Decay/Day/Light/Gone/Island/Blood zombie game is this one?

it’s the parkour one

And why was it banned in Germany?

A German could answer better than I can but I gather that anything interactive where the player is inflicting violence on realistic-looking humans (or former ones in this case) with lots of gore is just off limits to minors. Even the humans in the old late 90’s Carmageddon games were too realistic so they had to be portrayed as zombies with green blood.

Is it also worth it if you just play single-player? Or does it only shine in co-op/multiplayer?

Totally. Never played multiplayer or co-op and thoroughly enjoyed it, the DLC and the sequel. Just don’t expect Oscar nominated storylines.

Ok, great, thanks! Will give it a try!

Just remember to keep Mama happy, cause if Mama ain’t happy, nobody happy. (You’ll get it when you get there).

Shapez is good too!

Technically it’s not banned. You just can’t take it from the shelf, you’ll only get it at the counter - if you are 18. For the reasons Papageno stated. The (old fashioned) idea is to prevent it from getting popular (among kids). Which does not work well, says Doom or Quake… or all the other games I have played as a teen ; )

Since Steam, Epic etc. resemble a store shelf, all the games being visible, you can’t buy it online.

Did you manage to get this? I just saw a thread in reddit. Someone suggested creating a new account with address in some other country (eg, a hotel address) and also use a VPN.

I did not try. The VPN-method works well with Steam though. After a couple of days the game will show up in your library like a regular one and there’s no VPN needed anymore.

The VPN thing isn’t really worth the effort, if the situation didn’t get worse in the last few years.
CDKeys sells one of the GOTY versions for 6€ which can be activated through Steam. I did this a couple of years ago.

The other, more expensive version is import through Austria. This is legal, AFAIK. All that can happen is that customs opens the package and finds an excuse to confiscate the game. The chance for that is low.

The exact reasons haven’t been published.

Let me give you some context. I’ll simplify things, to avoid having to write several pages.
The whole youth protection business in Germany isn’t a check list. The rating is based on context like the amount of gore, violence against humans, the intensity of the atmosphere, suspense, violence against innocent bystanders, and much more.
Two organizations are involved, sometimes a court too, and of course lawyers if it gets ugly.
The organizations are the USK (a rating board financed by the industry) and the BPjM (an independent branch of the ministry of the interior; it translates to Federal Verification Authority for Youth-endangering Media; and yes, they have proven in the past that they’re indeed independent from orders from the top. )
The process for a game is as follows:

  1. Publisher sends the full game to the USK, with walkthrough, cheatcodes and a written statement, what relevant stuff is in there. And of course they commit to paying the fee.
  2. the USK assigns a play tester who plays the game until he has satisfied himself that he has seen everything there is to be seen, with regards to youth protection. So splatter, gore, combat, finishing moves, videos, etc.
  3. In case of FIFA soccer this only takes a short time and it all goes smoothly. If the game in question is the latest God of War, it will probably be played from start to finish.
  4. Data is collected and the play tester presents the game to a board of 5 people. Four are appointed by the USK, one is a permantent seat for the German States. The tester does not give a recommendations, but answers all questions.
  5. The board makes a decision. It’s either 0, 6, 12, 16, 18 (they actually have more complicated names) or “rating refused”. The publisher can appeal, the permanent seat for the State Youth Authorites can cast his veto. If neither happens, the rating stands.

If a game got its rating - 18 for the Dead Space remake - everything is fine. The game can be sold and marketed. The few age related specifics are routine.
A key point is: An USK rating protects the game from the BPjM! You want this, as the publisher for a controversial game.

But sometimes things go wrong.
The USK operates in historical context. If they have doubts if a game is potentially harmful to the youth, they must refuse a rating and pass the game on to the BPjM.
This happens if the game is too violent, contains too much imagery from the 3rd Reich, or the girls in a Japanese game look a bit too young.
And it more often happens when the last game in the franchise got sacked. If a game is potentially content identical the USK will play it very safe.
Until the day the USK issues a rating, the BPjM can find an excuse to take action. They have the power to put a game on The Index, if they come to the conclusion, it’s dangerous for the youth. Which means it can still be legally sold, bought and owned, but it has to disappear from the eyes of all people under 18. It’s a crime to let a kid even see the game. This practically means commercial death.
Sometimes there are products which the BPjM considers so dangerous that they believe it glorifies violence. In that case they pass the file on to the public prosecutor, who can decide to go to court. In the past this has lead to a permanent ban and confiscation and destruction of all product. Especially many zombie movies in the early 80s met this fate.
So getting attention from the BPjM can get expensive, even though the organization has mellowed quite a bit over the years. Nowadays they know much more about entertainment media and they’re quite reasonable.
The process there is quite similar to the one at the USK:

  1. The game arrives with paperwork. A playtester is assigned.
  2. He plays the game for a long time.
  3. He gives a presentation to either the small senate (3 people; for simple cases) or the big senate (12 people). The BPjM is meant to represent the whole breadth of the German society. So the senate if probably quite colorful, maybe with somebody from the church, a human rights activist, a teacher, etc.
    I’m not sure if the play tester gives a recommendation. He is schooled in the relevant legal things, so it’s quite possible. Of course he answers all questions and quite often shows specific gameplay scenes. Example: “Pull out the Uzi, run into the hotel lobby and shoot people. I want to see what happens!”
  4. A decision is made. Do they consider the game harmful to the development of a minor, if he is exposed to it? If yes, the game is put on the index. Before that there’s probably an appeal by the publisher.
  5. If the answer is no (Example: Hitman 2, even though Hitman 1 was sacked.) the game reverts back to the USK, which can now confidently give a rating they deem appropriate.

The dicisions by both organizations are made in historic context but according to today’s standards. Let me explain this with an example we all know.
In 2011-ish Dead Island was put on The Index. But 8 years or so later, when the publisher Deep Silver wanted to sell a remaster, they appealed the decision by the BPjM. An automatic review happens after 25 years, but publishers can appeal earlier, under certain conditions. If they lose, the timer starts again.
The big senate voted “yes” to the appeal. What was a bloody and intense game in 2011 they considered less bad in 2019 context. The carribean setting made things less real, and kids have seen worse nowadays.
So good bye Index, hello USK, rating, $$$.

In early 2022 Techland filed an appeal for Dying Light. The big senate denied it.
Techland decided to take some edges off the German version of Dying Light 2. Blood effects when fighting humans were significantly reduced - but not on zombies. Plus you could no longer harm friendly NPCs.

Dead Island 2 is also slightly censored. So far it is known that you can no longer interact with enemies once they are considered dead (again) by the game. So no ragdoll effect and no chopping off arms and legs with a machete once you’ve won a fight.

Closing comments:
The process was updated two years ago, but it should still be very similar to the one I described. The BPjM got a different name and some new duties. The Index thing (List A for the simple Index, List B as the branch often leading to confiscation) was reformed too, I guess.
It’s important to understand that the ratings or a ban don’t come randomly since USK ratings have been upgraded to de-facto law. Every game is played for as long as necessary, and if it takes a hundred hours, then so be it. At times the USK checked, played and rated more than 3000 games per year. Controversial discussions were and are few and far between. But because there’s no check list and every game is assessed on its own, sometimes a publisher runs out of luck and misses his safety roll.
In the last 5-10 years the BPjM let many more products off the Index than they put on it. Most 80s action movies are free now. Old games like Doom and its gazillion clones too. Even the BPjM’s favourite movies (Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, many cheap Italian zombie movies and Mad Max rip-offs) are free now and widely available uncut.

I can only wonder what it’s like when you don’t hold yourself back!

But seriously, thanks for the info, I had no idea how it worked.

Yes, thanks Gorath for the interesting info.

Are video games rejected more for violence than movies in Germany? On IMDB I found someone’s list of banned movies in Germany, and it looks like only the more extreme horror movies are on there.

I feel like there are many more violent movies than video games. The Saw movies come to mind and aren’t even on the list. Maybe the difference is that for games, the player is actually performing the actions so perhaps that is considered more harmful.

And… off topic but actually on topic, the X4 DLC are on sale at GMG for new historical lows, probably in anticipation of the new Kingdom End DLC releasing this week. The base game is also on sale, but it’s been cheaper before ($16 vs $20 now).

GMG’s X4 sale prices have always been quite a bit better than Steam, and I’m guessing these prices will still be better than Steam’s summer sale, so now is a good time to scoop up the DLC.

If you have Desktop Dungeons on Steam, you’ll get the new remastered version for free upon release.