Two years ago, Charles Games, an independent studio based out of Prague in the Czech Republic, released Attentat 1942 for the PC. The game was a sort of interactive history lesson combining comic book-style interfaces and video clips of Czech citizens who’d survived the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia during WWII. Encouraged by the results, Charles Games worked on an Android release. Unfortunately, in a move which can only be described as incredibly tone deaf, Google Play has blocked the game from being released in Germany, Austria, France, and Russia for referencing Nazis.
Germany had, up until 2018, a blanket ban on any Nazi iconography or imagery, even in games which happened to be set during WWII. Whether they were historically toned like the early iterations of Call of Duty or more recent flights of fancy such as Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, games had to be altered to comply with that ban. Since the ban’s reassessment to comply with German legal codes, Charles Games worked with German authorities Attentat 1942 to ensure it would satisfy Section 86 of the German Criminal Code, which allows the use of Nazi iconography if “those symbols serve an artistic or scientific purpose, or depict current or historical events.” Austria has similar legal codes and exceptions for video games. France does not seem to have an equivalent to Germany’s Section 86, but Article R645-1 of the Criminal Code does allow an exception for “an exhibition including a historical evocation” which a good lawyer could probably apply to video games. As for Russia, it seems to be closer to the original German ban.
In a post on Twitter, Charles Games expressed their disappointment and frustration over the decision, particularly in light of the fact that the company worked with German regulators to ensure the game’s initial release on PC. They included images of the emails they received from Google regarding the situation, all of which appear to be basically form letters.
This is not the first time that Google Play has made this sort of move. Norwegian indie developer Sarepta Studio had their BAFTA-award winning game My Child Lebensborn removed from Google Play in the same regions for similar reasons late last year.