The laws of World War II are stopping ‘Wolfenstein The New Order’ from being region free
Most of the time when a publisher decided to region-lock a game, it for antipiracy or controlled-content restrictions on a select title. In the case of ‘Wolfenstein The New Order,’ region-locking comes from a very specific law that was mandated at the end of World War II. You see at the end of the war, it was declared illegal to have Nazi-related branding, symbols or content to ever be sold, displayed or exchanged in Germany. The law was made to stop the party from ever growing to power again, and to squash all supporters of its cause.
The law worked, and to this day it is still illegal to have any of these symbols in Germany, including in a video game. In the past some games have actually took the time to remove the content for sale in Germany, and Bethesda will also be taking the time to make a version that will be playable in the country.
The law dates back to the (German Criminal Code) that would have Bethesda, and anyone attached to the game, pay an enormous penalty or even serve prison time for allowing Nazi related content to be displayed in the game. The first question you may have is if other media; film, books or historical depictions face the same penalties in Germany, those mediums are safeguarded from the law, and other specific exclusions do apply, but not for video-games.
It is because of this law that Bethesda will have to region lock the new game, so that no one in the country could play the title (without circumventing the law themselves, and freeing Bethesda of the responsibility). Bethesda will make a German language version that, “will be available for sale via select distributors in Germany, Austria and throughout the rest of the world,” according to the publisher.