While I don't exactly loathe the censorship called "low violence version" for some games steam sells (e.g. Fallout 3)

German low violence version only available with German language

I do detest being forced to play games in a language different than the original one, which is usually English - especially since I often experience terrible mistranslations and not-so-great German speakers.

Portal, like most Valve games, I think, allows to set the language via properties -> language.

However, I recently bought Bioshock misreading the "only" in that shop message as "the German version is censored" and not as "this version is German only" since I don't have any language option. I already set Steam itself to English on installation, but to no avail.

Is it possible to play games in a language not made available via Steam?

Obviously I'm asking for legal ways and don't want to accidentally get a ban instead of a better speech...

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    Out of curiosity, would this message have been any less ambiguous had you used Steam in German? "Gewaltgeminderte Version - nur auf Deutsch verfügbar" – badp Jul 9 '11 at 10:27
  • uhm, ye-es.... :-( But let's just say there is a good reason I set Steam to English. Just as you are glad setting Steam to Italian didn't change the speech ;-) – Zommuter Jul 9 '11 at 10:36
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    I'm happy because I can use the Italian version of Steam and help improve it without having to hear low-budget dubs ;) – badp Jul 9 '11 at 10:37
  • @badp good point – Zommuter Jul 9 '11 at 10:44
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    Maybe this doesn't help but: personally, if any game that I'd legitimately bought had some annoying problem with it, I think I'd simply pirate a working version of it without any concern for whether that was technically legal or not. Can't see how you can get a ban doing that (though multiplayer games are different, I guess). – MGOwen Jul 12 '11 at 12:13

The problem of region restriction and low violence content has already been discussed here. Basically those restrictions are applied based on who purchases the game, not who plays it. You need somebody in a non restricted area to gift that game to you. Alternatively, you could spend your holidays in one such country and purchase the game from there with a local payment method (apparently you can buy prepaid cards from gas stations, or at least that's what Redditors say to people who have no credit card; YMMV).

  • Your answer may help others who don't know about that option, but as mentioned in my case it's a region lock issue. I'm not exactly asking how to change my region, although the answers to that question might be valid here too. I guess it's up to you to decide whether it's duplication or correlation – Zommuter Jul 9 '11 at 10:21
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    @Tobias I would say so, but I pinged a German that IIRC has tried exactly that. AFAIK he was successful. Besides, you could make a new account in that country and then gift the game to your main account. That won't change your billing information, however. – badp Jul 9 '11 at 10:30
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    @Tobias The problem with buying while being on vacation is, as I have painfully noticed, that while you'll be able to put something in your cart there, they'll reject your payment method (I think I tried credit card and Paypal) as not matching your current location. So I couldn't buy anything then, not even something also available in my home country. – Cort Jul 10 '11 at 13:19
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    @Tobias Nope, sorry. I'm living in Germany (and have a German Paypal account and credit card) and tried from the Netherlands. – Cort Jul 12 '11 at 9:54
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    Now that I live in Switzerland, I could finally ask Steam support to remove the German version from my account and re-buy the international edition. Still a sad thing, this geocism... – Zommuter Sep 10 '12 at 5:53

I got the uncensored version of Left 4 Dead 2, by buying a non german key.

When I entered the key I was in Germany and it still activated the uncensored version.

You should search for a seller of those keys. The one I bought my keys from went unfortunately out of business.


Theoretically it might be possible to copy the language data files from someone else and turning the updating function of, but this would be a last resort and I doubt Valve tolerates that - if it's not actually illegal to obtain a different language version that is not made available.


There are some online shops that import the UK and US versions of games which are uncut. This is perfectly legal, but it comes with some annoying restrictions. They are not allowed to openly advertise certain games and they need to verify that you are over 18 and that nobody under 18 can get their hands onto the game when they send it.

This means you are usually required to send them a copy of your ID (Personalausweis) and you have to receive the package personally, they won't give it to someone else. This costs a bit more money which you can at some shops avoid by sending to a Packstation (where only you can access the package).

I have done this for Fallout 3 at OkaySoft, there are a few more shops that import games, but I haven't tried it since then. Fortunately most games I bought recently came with the english language also available.

  • thanks for the link, this is still cheaper than "having to" go on vacation ;) I'll try this next time, though unfortunately it seems I won't be able to switch bioshock to English then since I already bought it in German... – Zommuter Jul 10 '11 at 14:24

That's not legally possible. This has nothing to do with Steam itself, but with the laws in Germany.

Since only Germany requires such censorship, only the German versions of games are available to you, unless you get someone else to buy you the game from a non-German country.

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    sigh :-( yes, but as mentioned I basically don't need to see fountains of blood, yet I'd like to stop my ears bleeding - can't I legally hear the English synchronization while playing the babysitter-friendly version? I also fear having someone buy the game from outside of Germany might result in a ban or at least not really being able to play it - I think I read that some folks bought a less expensive version of a game in some other country just to see it removed from their games list again... – Zommuter Jul 9 '11 at 10:07
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    Well, legally, you only own the German copy of the game. You didn't buy the English language packs. This is obviously the distributor's fault, but there's nothing you can do about it without pirating the language packs I suppose. – user56 Jul 9 '11 at 10:11
  • ok, badp's link contains a link to the orange box issue which is what I was referring to – Zommuter Jul 9 '11 at 10:23
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    @TobiasKienzler That's all up to the distributor, has naught to do with Steam. I do believe the German version of L4D2 comes with English voice packs, for example. – user56 Jul 9 '11 at 10:25
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    Actually you can sell the non-censored version of games in Germany, it is just a big hassle as they would have to verify the age of the buyer. I bought the imported version of Fallout 3 from a german vendor, which is perfectly legal. – Mad Scientist Jul 9 '11 at 16:39

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