Wii U games bearing an 18 certificate can only be accessed on the console’s European eShop download store between 11pm and 3am. The issue, Nintendo admits, stems from tight controls over the broadcast of adult content to minors in Germany, where the company’s European division is based.
Launch games including Mass Effect 3, Assassin’s Creed III and ZombiU cannot be purchased or downloaded outside of that four-hour window, and trailers are also inaccessible.
“Legal age restriction requirements vary across a number of European countries,” Nintendo told Eurogamer in a statement. “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 only be made available at night.”
The restriction, first highlighted on NeoGaf, applies to every Wii U in Europe, irrespective of parental control settings. NeoGaf user Panajev2001a raised the issue with Nintendo Italy’s customer support team.
The reply reads: “Nintendo has always aimed to offer gameplay experiences suited to all age groups, observing carefully all the relevant regulations regarding content access that are present in the various European countries. We have thus decided to restrict access to content which is unsuitable to minors (PEGI) to the 11pm – 3am time window.
“[This] is an additional precaution to make sure that minors cannot access content which is inappropriate for their age.”