What a German Law Means for UK Wii U Owners

One of the big selling points of the Wii U is Nintendo’s new attitude toward downloadable retail games. Sure there have been complaints levied at their storage options but Nintendo is the first of the three main console manufacturers to make the big leap to digital availability of retail games. Every first party game is available day one digitally as are the vast majority of third party games, which is great news for gamers who like to have their game collection in controllers reach at all times.

Something interesting has been unfolding over the last few days though, something unique as a problem to European Wii U owners. If you access the Wii U eShop between 3am and 11pm you’ll find a surprising lack of 18+ rated content. If you try to purchase ZombiU or watch a trailer for it you’ll get a strange message telling you that you can’t access the content. The unusual thing about the European eShop is that 18+ content is only available between 11pm and 3am UK time.

I know that many of you will be asking yourself why this restriction is in place for UK gamers when PS3 and Xbox 360 gamers can download anything at any time of the day or night. The answer lies with Germany and the ways it tries to protect children from unsuitable content. Below is the quote, direct from Nintendo’s mouth.

“At Nintendo we always aim to provide a safe gaming experience for fans of all ages and ensure that we comply with applicable legal age restriction requirements across Europe, Legal age restriction requirements vary across a number of European countries. Since Nintendo of Europe is based in Germany, Nintendo eShop is complying with German youth protection regulation which therefore applies to all our European markets. Under German law, content rated 18+ must be made available only at night.

“Therefore the accessibility of 18+ content in Nintendo eShop is limited to PEGI: 23:00 UTC until 3:00 UTC”

There you have it, Nintendo being based in Germany is the reason for these strange regulations. Lots of questions are brought up by this, like what does this mean for nightshift workers? Will these limitations apply to DLC? Does this actually prevent or deter those under 18 downloading unsuitable content? Isn’t this sort of regulation better handled by parental controls or a credit card based age check? Let us know your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

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