Gears 2 avoiding Germany, possibly Japan

[UPDATE] Microsoft confirms Epic Games sequel won't be released in violent-media-sensitive central European country; island nation plans still up in the air.

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Many gamers are counting down to the November release of Epic's sequel to its 2006 Xbox 360 hit, Gears of War. The game is due for worldwide launch on November 7, but not every territory will be part of the global release. Today, Microsoft reps confirmed to GameSpot that, the ultraviolent Gears of War 2 won't be released in Germany.

Germany: 100% Brumak-free since 2006.
Germany: 100% Brumak-free since 2006.

"Microsoft works closely with retailers, ratings organizations, and other partners to determine the best approach for our titles in markets around the world," the company said in a statement. "[As such] Gears of War 2 will not be released in Germany."

The lack of a German release would not be a surprise; the country has a strict classifications system for games, and the original Gears of War game was refused a rating. This led to Microsoft canceling the release of the game in the violent-media-sensitive country, in accordance with its policy on unrated games.

Web reports say that the central European nation won't be the only one missing out on hero Marcus Fenix's second assault on the Locust horde. The online edition of Edge magazine reports that Japan will also not receive the game, which bears a hard M for Mature rating the United States.

However, Microsoft would not confirm nor deny that report, saying only that is has "no announcements to make about Gears of War 2 releasing in Japan at this time."

Skipping Japan might be a bit of blow for Microsoft's efforts to crack the Japanese market, where the Xbox 360 has lagged far behind the Wii and PlayStation 3. Released in January 2007 in the territory, the original Gears went on to sell more than 33,000 copies in its first week and made the sales chart top 10, despite being a 360-exclusive shooter from a Western developer.

One thing that is for certain, though, is that Gears of War 2 will not be available for the PC. In a recent interview for GameSpot UK's Start/Select show, Epic president Mike Capps responded to the question "Are we ever going to see Gears of War 2 for the PC?" with a flat "No." That sentiment was seconded by design director Cliff Bleszinski in an interview with GameSpot's San Francisco office.

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