Commandos 2 – HD Remaster Censors Nazi and Japanese Imperial Symbols, Kalypso Media: “We Do Not Want to Encourage Racism”

Commandos 2 - HD Remaster

Players have noticed in the recent launch of Commandos 2 – HD Remaster that Nazi and Japanese Imperial symbols have been censored and removed from the game. Publisher Kalypso Media later stated “We do not want to encourage racism, discrimination or exclusion with our games.”

On August 16th, 2019, Kalypso Media confirmed to a German Twitter user that Commandos 2 – HD Remaster would be censored.

“The law is still the same, only the USK has loosened its rules by examining games with such content in the first place. And no – there will be no swastikas in Commandos 2 – HD Remaster, any more than any other prohibited symbol.

[…] We do not ‘censor’ insofar as no version internationally will contain these symbols. Not because we have to, but because we want to. But also a thank you from us for the nice answer.

[…] Nothing has changed in the game itself. Ultimately, it’s about an attitude – and the moral responsibility that we as a German publisher see with us. In our eyes, the fun of playing does not detract from using alternative symbols such as the Iron Cross”

Translation: Twitter’s Machine Translation

This information seemed to fly under the radar of many (most likely because of the German language barrier and how few retweets the comments got). However, even before the game released on January 24th, players noticed that Nazi swastikas and the Japanese Imperial “Rising Sun” were removed from pre-release screenshots and trailers.

This only ramped up once the game was released. Gore had also been removed. You can see examples of this via SirRH on YouTube below:

As of this time of writing, the Steam Discussion forums for the game are alight with complaints [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. These center around not just the censorship, but several bugs, and the game’s updated graphics being less “HD” than the fan-made HD Mod for the original Commandos 2: Men of Courage. Some similar complaints were also present on GOG [1, 2, 3].

As of this time of writing, the Steam Reviews for the game are Mixed, with only 45% being positive. Currently the game has only 11 user scores on Metacritic, nonetheless coming out at an average of 0.5.

One user on Steam proposed that the censorship of the Japanese Imperial flag was to allow the game to be sold in China, as China is currently the only nation with a ban on showing the Japanese Imperial flag in media.

“Considering that the symbols of Imperial Japan aren’t banned in virtually any countries (especially the classic “meatballs on the wings”), it is unusual that they’re flat-out removed in this game.

However, when analysing this issue, I couldn’t ignore the fact that the developers seem to be making very notable efforts to appeal to the Chinese market, going as far as making an entire Chinese sub-forum for the game, despite no other international language sub-forums being present.

I highly suspect that the Japanese censorship in this game wasn’t made on a legal basis, but instead a blatant attempt to appeal to Chinese customers, which is straight-up censorship.
This in turn puts the statement of the German censorship being done on a legal basis rather than a censorship one further into question.”

While the official Kalypso Media forums for the game only offer English/International, and German sub-forums, the game itself does support Traditional and Simplified Chinese languages.

One particular Steam Discussion thread was later sticked (WayBackMachine archive here). On January 21st, one developer of the game “Unerde” replied to the user:

“There will only be one version of Commandos 2 HD Remaster internationally, and it will not incorporate any symbols, portraits, speeches or other assets that could break the law in many countries.
As a company, we are obliged to adhere to the law, but we want our users to have the best experience with our games without causing potential delays or even being banned in certain countries.

Therefore, we have decided on this course of action so that we will not be forced to split up groups of players or be unable to provide the game to specific regions at all.”

Other users quickly pointed out that Germany had lifted its ban on Nazi imagery from video games back in 2018, and even when it was in effect the law only applied to Germany. Titles such as Wolfenstein: Youngblood had been able to show the symbols to no ill effect.

One user (Meto83) even pointed out how the original Commandos 2: Men of Courage was not banned or added to the index of the German Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien, BPjM).

Unerde responded again later:

“Hi everybody,
thank you for your passion and dedication about the game and your feedback.

Yet, the decision was made and we were as transparent as possible in advance, making everybody interested in the remaster aware of us making this game available in as many countries as possible,without splitting up the community with different versions and without moving the release date in many countries and/or in general in the far unforeseen future.

Not to mention, even though if some of you do not agree, that as a company, we are obliged to adhere to the law, but we want our users to have the best experience with our games without causing potential delays or even being banned in certain countries, as stated already above.”

The developer continued to respond, reiterating they wanted to avoid “possible releases not happening in certain countries,” and citing unspecified laws from unspecified countries.

Eventually, “Maria” of Kalypso Media responded to the original post:

“Thank you gamzrck for your feedback on this topic. As this has raised heated discussions within the community, we would like to explain and clarify our position.

We have consciously decided to release only one global version of Commandos 2 HD Remaster, one which as far as possible avoids the use of political symbols such as Swastika or SS-runes. We do not want to encourage racism, discrimination or exclusion with our games. As a cosmopolitan but German company, we see it as our duty to refrain from any kind of radical symbolism.

We really do not believe that avoiding extreme political symbols diminishes the fun or authenticity of our games and we feel that this attitude is supported by a large part of our community.

We know that this decision won’t be shared and agreed upon by everyone and we appreciate your own opinions, but hope that you can accept our standpoint.”

This reply only seemed to fan the flames. The developers later announced [1, 2] they were “reading all feedback, reports, suggestions and ideas submitted by players since launch.” While they addressed the bug fixes, they did not discuss the censorship.

OneAngryGamer also claims that some Steam users have shared warnings they received from Steam Discussion moderators, requesting they do not “advertise” the original Commandos 2: Men of Courage on Steam, the Commandos 2 + 3 bundle on GOG, or the fan made HD mod for Commandos 2.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!

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Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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