New Quebec Law Bans Sale of English-only Games if French Version is Available


A new law in Quebec has video game retailers concerned, reports the Toronto Star.

As of April 1st, it became illegal to sell an English language-only version of a video game if a French version is available.

Game Buzz co-owner Ronnie Rondeau is among those who are upset:

I’m afraid it’s going to cost me my business. If it really was going to make a difference, I’d be for it, but only a small number of people want to play in French. The rest don’t care. And money-wise, it’s going to hurt.

Hardcore gamers, of course, are an impatient lot who often want their favorite titles on the date of release. But Haig James Toutikian, a Montreal game designer, said that technical difficulties in creating French versions could lead to delays:

I know how much of a pain they can be. They take up a lot of bug-tracking time… I don’t think [the new law] will encourage people to buy the French version.

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  1. Lysdexia says:

    This law (as crappy as it is) already exist with PC games, they just haven’t been applied to Console games yet


    The Pal version counts as the french version

    At least that’s my understanding


    Also, if there is no French version available, then it’s legal to sell the English version only

    it’s just illegal if there’s a french version out (aka the europian version) and the reseller doesn’t sell it

  2. Lysdexia says:

    Quebecois, or Joual, was spoken in France before france was speaking it’s current version of French

    learn the facts before posting, please


    From wikipedia (read the reference if you’re a skeptic…):

    "Although moé and toé are today considered substandard slang pronunciations, these were the pronunciations of Old French and French used by the kings of France, the aristocracy and the common people in all provinces of Northern France. After the 1789 French Revolution, the standard pronunciation in France changed to that of a stigmatized form in the speech of Paris, but Quebec retained the historically "correct" one, having been isolated from the Revolution by the 1760 British Conquest of New France"

  3. DFT says:

    Té pa mieux le cave, Chu pas offencé, je trouve sa offensant, ouvre tes yeux un tit peu

    J’esseye juste de garder au québec le peu de sa dignité qui reste à travers tout sa. Oui la loi suce pour tout les hardcore, mais elle est proffitable pour les enfants qui sont la cible de la loie en question.


    J’trouve sa déconsertant à quel point té juste trop cave.

  4. Berg says:

    Even in Ontario they’ve started putting the French manual in the shrink wrap with the english game.

    I don’t see why that isn’t good enough in Quebec.

  5. Coach says:

    When I lived in Vancouver, I heard a joke which reflects some Canadien’s opinion of Quebec…

    Two men are fishing, one from Edmonton and the other from Quebec.  One of them pulls a bottle a bottle out of the water.  A genie appears from the bottle and says he will grant each a wish.  The man from Quebec says "I would like you to build a 100 ft wall all the way around Quebec to keep everyone and all outside influences from entering".  The genie replies "It is done!".  The genie then turns to the man from Edmonton and asks "what is your wish?"  The man from Edmonton says "Fill the inside of that wall with water!"



  6. Valdearg says:

    Lol.. google Translator FTL.. I tried to translate that, out of curiousity, because I don’t speak French.

    The result?

    What a fool to believe. you think you really that offended virgin to go fix things? it is the internet. live with ben or stop using it.


    "You think you really that offended virgin to go fix things?" Lmao.. Now I wish I knew French..

  7. Francois Taddei says:

    Hi everyone!


    I’m the editor of and (which means Play in French).  I wrote extensive articles about this in French.  Here’s a quick resume I wrote down:


    In 1977, the Charter of the French Language, also know as Bill 101, defined French as the only official language of Quebec and framing fundamental language rights of all Quebecers.  In 1997, this law was amended so that every product sold in Quebec must include packaging, instructions and warranty certificates in French.  Since then, all computer software, including game software and operating systems, whether installed or uninstalled, must be available in French unless no French version exists.  Video games publishers were given a six year grace period to comply.  Since 2003, video games are now available with French packaging/booklets/warranties.


    In 2007, the Quebec government finalized a deal with the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, to increase the number of video games available in French in Quebec.  Activision Blizzard, Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Canada, Nintendo of Canada, Sony Computer Entertainment Canada, Take2 Interactive, THQ and Ubisoft Canada, who are all members of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, agreed that they would be able to offer their next generation games with French content before April 1st, 2009, if such a version exists elsewhere in the world.


    After this deal was announced in 2007, the number of bilingual games raised significantly.  For example, in 2007, only 17% of Xbox 360 games were available in French in Quebec.  Today, half of the Xbox 360 library (about 190 titles out of 380) is available in French in Quebec.  Almost every new AAA release is now bilingual or multilingual.   Games that are only available in English, that don’t exist in French, still can be sold in Quebec.  Out of the thousand games released each year, almost every one of them made their way in Quebec.  Retailers complaining about possible delays or higher pricing are not truthful.


    That’s about it, so there’s nothing new here from my point of view.

  8. MaskedPixelante says:

    But, Quebec French ISN’T real French… Quebec French is about as French as Louisianna French.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  9. Pierre-Olivier says:

    Since it’s quite an hassle to have both French and English version separately, Multi-lingual version are the most commonly sold (when they exists). I had Prince of Persia (Two Thrones), Bioshock, Tomb Raider: Legend and many other games in three languages (French and English included of course). That restriction would seems only apply when there’s no multi-language version.

    In short, that law isn’t that unreasonable.

    And you can call them "Quebecers".

  10. Moriarty70 says:

    I know it’s a little off, but, I can now tolerate Quebec pulling this kind of stuff. Why can I tolerate it you ask? Because of South Park – Christmas in Canada. "Theres no Canada like French Canada, its the best Canada in the land. The other Canada is hardly Canada, if you lived here for a day you’ d understand."

    A talking mime. That should wrap up the logic of Napoleanic Quebec logic.

  11. Duffy says:

    Yes, let’s make a law that can ban something just because of the language it’s in. That makes tons of logical sense. Cause this wouldn’t be annoying for retailers to stock various copies.

  12. SilverMelee says:

    Well, you got give the Quebec folk credit, at least they’re trying to preserve its culture and language…

    Reading the comments, its law apparently requires a French and English version be sold, but I have to ask those of you who live in Quebec; if the game has both an English and French track (as in, both on a single disc as opposed to two versions), and if the manual has English and French formats, does that particular game bypass the law? Or does there still have to be a French-only version sold next to it?

    Also, on an unrelated note, how do you pronounce "Quebecois"? As an American, I always just called them "French-Canadians"…

    — I do more than just play games. I draw, too:

  13. Pierre-Olivier says:

    Not necessarely. Most Quebec retailers has started stocking multi-languages versions. My copies of Bioshock and Prince of Persia had French, English and German.

  14. DarkSaber says:

    "the only thing the French do best is their abillity to piss everyone off."


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  15. Hackangel says:

    Brought what upon themselves? To make sure that consumers have the choice between the french and the english version of a game when it’s available?

    I fail to see how that’s bad in a province where the main language is french.

  16. Hackangel says:

    Well they’re not banning the english version either. It’s just that if a french version exists, you must sell it along the english version. Which makes sense in a province where the official language is french.

  17. Keith K says:

    Quebec isn’t part of Canada. They’re a distinct society’

    No sympathy from me. They brought this upon themselves. They made their bed, they can sleep it in. 

  18. Michael Chandra says:

    Clearly you never paid attention to the politics debates and the hate against anything that someone says that CAN be interpreted in a negative way. Many people here are as intolerant as JT.

  19. Daria_C says:

    Americans get to say this so little to Canadians, so lets relish it…

    Haha! Your nations messed up!

  20. Luvian says:

    This article is a little misleading. I read the press release, what it really says is that if you want to sell an english version of a game, you must also stock the french version of it if it exists.

    If the game comes out in english first, well then just stock that. And when the french version finaly come out, just start stocking it too.

    Big names retail stores are already stocking both versions. There’s really no difference.

  21. Sammy says:

    tu parle d’un esti d’imbécile. tu pense tu vraiment que faire la vierge offensée vas arranger les affaires? c’est l’internet. vis avec ou ben arrète de l’utiliser.

  22. Titantim says:

    Which is crazy because it doubles the stock needed in the store.  On new games it wouldn’t be that bad.  Halo 4, no problem.  Im sure they can turn over that stock easily.  But what about the games that nobody cares about anymore?  They’ll have to stock both the English and the french versions of them just to be legal.  And if someone actually buys the french version, they’ll have to re-stock immediatly again just to stay legal.


    The language police in quebec lost my support as soon as they went after the Wendy’s chain didn’t have the french equavelant name above the English name. Morons…

  23. MaskedPixelante says:

    Ugh… Quebec makes me ashamed to be Canadian.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  24. Pierre-Olivier says:

    The news is a bit misleading.

    You can perfectly buy a game in it’s English version. It’s just that the retailers must also sell the French version (if it’s avaiable) if they want to sell an English version. So, you won’t be breaking the law if you buy it in English.

    According to the OQLF, it only applies to current-gen (and future consoles).

  25. DFT says:

    I have read a lot about the law but I haven not seen anything that talks about online game sell.
    If I live in Qc and I buy from a site based in Qc a game that is available in French but I am buying it in English, am I braking the law? If I buy an English game that has a French translation in Qc but from anywhere else in the world, am I breaking the law again?

    How about used games?
    If I buy an English game in Qc that has a french translation but in another game, but the store owner cant get his hands on (for example, the game is out of stock because of it’s suppliers), his he or am I breaking the law again?

  26. Hannah says:

    Well.. how do you think the Brits feel all the freakin’ time?  Even in Canada, where our spoken English is nearly identical to that south of the border, we still spell things differently.  It always bothers me when I see "colour" or "favourite" without the u, but nobody is ever going to localize a game for Canadian/British spelling.  It’s just something that we have to get used to.

  27. JC says:

    It actually seems to be the former, since a Montreal designer was worried that they’d have to delay just so they can make the french version and to bug test it.

    I would think the biggest difference is that most don’t build unicode into their games and use simplistic ASCII which doesn’t have access to the characters required for most languages. I’m speculating on that though…

    NTSC versions, most just have spanish, but you see some with french sometimes too, PAL is a different encoding system and I think that what they are asking isn’t possible in many scenarios. PAL games don’t necessarily work on NTSC products.

    It’d likely cause more headaches or for some publishers to simply not ship to quebec for a period of time, if developers even bother with making a french version for NTSC; unless the laws are that lenient, which then why even bother going through the trouble in the first place? <_>


  28. Pierre-Olivier says:

    I think someone should notify Dennis (wish I knew how). Because "illegal to sell English version" is a bit misleading.

  29. DFT says:

    I wish I had the time to find the article, but I know that the law stipulates that any French posting in front of a public area has to take at least 60% of the panel it self in comparison with any other language (so English is on the same lever as Spanish or Chinese for example).

    There is an actual commission that takes care of giving penalties to business who does not respect the law and it’s common in Montreal and it’s surroundings.

  30. DFT says:

    You do know that this is offensive. I am from Montréal and my native language is French.

    Also, I do not see how this law affects anyone else then people who live in Québec. Maybe some import company, but that it. Who do you think you are to shout out loud that you are better then us?

    Please retract your comment.

  31. beemoh says:

     >I know how much of a pain they can be. They take up a lot of bug-tracking time

    This is only bug-tracking time Europe would have to go through, though.

    TBH, I’m surprised French localisation isn’t already done for the Canadian market as added value for this very reason- if you’re going to do it anyway, why not do it earlier in the cycle and please more customers, more quickly?

    EDIT: Bonus points if your game was developed in Japan/China/other non-English speaking country.


  32. Hackangel says:

    I really wish this would be clearer. I’m not sure that they need to wait until a french version is also available to sell the english version of the game or if they can sell the english version once it’s out and MUST sell the french version once it’s out to keep selling the english version as well.

    The second one makes more sense.

  33. Hackangel says:

    Thanks Pierre-Olivier. That law seemed weird to me too because why apply this to games when you can get english only versions of a book or movie?

    Having to sell the french version of a game if it exists along the english version of the game makes more sense.

    Actually, just last month I picked up the Orange Box for my sister. There were both the english and french version available.

  34. freakyfro99 says:

    Je m’en calisse de la version francaise!

    This is why I hate living in this province…  How much more will it cost companies to sell another version of the game as well as the English version?  No one even wants the French version.  These translations never take place in Quebec, basically people will have to wait for France to make one and the Europeeans always get things a little later.  If this province ever separates I’m getting my ass out of here so fast…

  35. Untouchable says:

    This would be an April Fools joke if it were anywhere else.


    Being French-Canada though… they have a track record for stuff similar to this.

  36. Hackangel says:

    That’s not really true about the part of having public signs with no english on it. Signs will require to have french in bigger characters than in english though, after all, french is the official language.

  37. Hackangel says:

    Way to put every separatists in the same basket. I thought a regular at Gamepolitics would know better than to paint a stereotype with a wide brush. I could easily debate the issue but you don’t seem to know what it’s really about.

    By the way, the notion of a Quebecker not speaking "real" french is as ridiculous as a Canadian or an Texan not speaking "real" english.

  38. Hannah says:

    Well, the release date wouldn’t be an issue if developers would just release all versions at the same time.  It would probably cut down on piracy too on the European end.

    Not sure what can be done about the France-French vs. Quebec-French thing, but us Anglophones all have to make do with American English most of the time, despite the fact that we aren’t all American.  I know it’s not quite the same, but… still.  You can understand France French, can’t you?

  39. janarius says:

    Found something on the office Quebecois de la langue francaise which indicates that it’s real.

    Here’s the link, unfortunately they’re not bilingual.

    So I translated and made a brief synopsis:

    Since Septembre 10 2007, they’ve made a law that video game should packaged in French and have French manuals along the English ones. (IMO Used games don’t often comes along with the French manuals because the anglophones may have thrown them out).

    Since October 2007, new PC games that have a French version available that exist in the world, must be sold in English and French.

    And now at this unfunny time, new consoles games that has a French version that exist in the world, must also be sold in English and French.

    N.B.: applies to latest and future generations of console games only, only applies to games released after April 1st 2009 and finally if there are no French version that exist then it can still be sold.

    That’s the gist of it.

    IMO, some commentators have already noted most French versions are from France. So I guess, us Quebecois will have to wait as the Europeans. And France French is so different from Quebec French, that I can tell you.

  40. KayleL says:

    Quebec has a bunch of weird laws where is comes to languages. You can not have public signs with English on it. If you have English on a sign in a private area (like within business, or offices) The french translation have to be at least twice as big as the English writing.

  41. Hannah says:

    I like Quebec.  They’re a bit weird, but I admire the way they’re willing to take actual steps to preserve their language and culture.  Here in English Canada, we rarely admit that we even have a culture, and any efforts to preserve it are often met with accusations of intolerance or even racism. 

    A law like this (assuming that it isn’t an April Fools joke) is completely reasonable in a province where the official (and most common) language is French.  Besides, they aren’t banning all English games, merely the ones where a French version is available.

  42. DarkeSword says:

    Doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.  Won’t that just make companies [i]not bother[/i] making French NTSC versions?  Unless the law doesn’t differentiate between NTSC and PAL, I don’t see the big deal.

    If I had my own game publisher and I was faced with this law, I’d just say, "Hey, fine.  We just won’t make a French version.  Then we don’t lose the market."

    Or am I missing something here? 😐

  43. GoliathWon says:

    If I simply didn’t care about langage, then there would be no problem, now would there? I’d just play whatever they have on the shelf. But I do care. I’d rather play games in English. As it is, I’ll just get my games from from now on. Good job, Québec.

    Would this affect games like World of Warcraft, which do have a French version, but which can only connect to French servers? Does a PAL version count as an existing French version, even though they’d require an additionnal (possibly unjustifiable) investment to convert to North American consoles? They didn’t put any thought into this at all.

  44. Bigman-K says:

    Not all of them but many Quebecers (The Seperatists in perticular) are arrogant ignorant bastards who don’t even speak real french according to a friend of mine who is originally from France. They think their shit don’t stink and if you speak english to them they will ignore you and treat you like shit. They think they have it so bad in Canada yet are country does everything in it’s power to please them. They want to seperate from our country when the reality is they couldn’t even survive on their own. Ohh and when they do seperate they want to give us all their debt, as well as use our currency as their own. Even France thinks the whole notion of Quebec seperation is bullshit know and even the President of France has told them to STFU about it and that they are better off within Canada. Sorry for the rant but the anti-english, anti-canadian seperatists just piss me right off.


    "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  45. SimonBob says:

    When the new snow tire laws went into effect in la belle province, they ran out over there, so drivers started coming to Ontario to get them.  You couldn’t find a tire in Ottawa for months.

    With this law, I wonder if we’ll see a similiar effect on popular gaming titles?  Another good reason to preorder, I suppose…

    The Mammon Philosophy

  46. Entegy says:

    This isn’t new at all. I remember about reading it last year. Quebec needs to get out of this stupid French-only shit. I’m tired of being hated on simply because I speak English more than French. Guess what? I’m gonna be better off in life cause I speak both languages. 🙂

  47. Saxy says:

    This has to be April Fools. If not from GP, then from Quebec. I mean, I just learned in school about exactly HOW stubborn some of them can be about their French heritage (no offense anybody, just reading from the textbook), but this is ridonculous. Somebody is going to shout "APRIL FOOLS!!!" very soon, be it GP or Quebecs Ministers or somebody.

  48. insanejedi says:

    I’ve said it this week, "the only thing the French do best is their abillity to piss everyone off."

  49. Snipzor says:

    This is complete bullshit, I’m tired of these god damn laws and the backwards French lawmakers who are unable to accept that Quebec isn’t only French.

  50. Pierre-Olivier says:

    That’s the beauty of it. If an French version is not available YET, a retailer can still sell an English version. Once the French version is out, THAT’s when they have to stock the French version as well (though I’m sure most of them will pack multi-language version to avoid most problems).

    I’ve seen a few games with excellent French translation. The Broken Sword series and the Legacy of Kain series are good examples.

  51. Olvan says:

    Allow me to explain why I believe this law is extremely bad for everyone in Quebec.


    First of all, If a game is available in french, a retailer must have it at the SAME TIME as the english version. Meaning? As most translations are made in Europe (with a few exceptions), it’s gonna take a lot of time for new games to come to shelf. Will people wait? Most won’t. Online sellers (like ebay and amazon, whom this law can’t touch) will sell more and local retailers less. For speciality stores, it’s pretty bad and quite a few are afraid (with good reasons) to lose their clients.

    That’s what I hate about this law. It’s meant to "protect" french, but it will only hurt local retailers. Another exemple of lawmakers completely out of touch with reality.

    I have yet to see a really good french translation of a video game. One good enough to make me play it. The few i’ve seen made in Quebec (such as the zelda : link’s awakening, who tried and failed miserably to use local slang) are terrible. And since french in Europe is very different from canadian french, it just doesn’t feel right.

  52. Warrax says:

    Quebec gouvernement is so afraid we all end up speaking english it’s rediculous.

    As a french canadien myself, I buy games in english simply because it’s the original version and after more than 15 years of videogaming, I still speak french! so there is no worries that the french language become a thing of the past by playing video games in english, they just piss off people with these laws.

    Mind you, I welcome french translation and laws, but please stop delaying games release dates because of that.

  53. Mavoubate says:

    English people need to stop thinking that they rule the world and that the only language that must be speaking on earth is english. Let’s start selling french only games in english Canada and see what happens. To me, it makes sense that if I want to buy a game in my native language, I can do so.

    People need to understand what the reality is in Quebec. There are some laws to make sure Quebec people do not loose language. It not like we are torturing english people or anything.

    I’ll give you an example of how things work in Quebec. When there are meeting at my job, 1 out of 10 people do not speak french so there is a meeting, the meeting is done in English. Is it fair? It’s not like my company is an exception, it’s been like that for my whole career. Yet, English people complain because stop signs are written in French. Come on!

    Another example: In my condominium block, 1 out of 50 person does not speak French. Documents were at first written in French only then that person complained so now all the documents get translated to English. It cots time, it cots money. I wonder what would have happened if I made the same request in Ontario. I would have been told that Quebecers are always complaning and all this crap, and of course, the documents would not have been translated only for myself.

  54. insanejedi says:

    You obviously aren’t Canadian then, because Quebec has always tried to apply fraking crazy laws to everything in the name of "preserving french culture and language". Take Bill 101 for example.

  55. DarkSaber says:

    Nope, GP has just been made a belated April Fool!

    Well maybe not, but I’m convinced at any rate.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  56. Sammy says:

    we’re more likely to say "crisse de tabarnak".


    it means the same thing, but with more punch.

  57. Hackangel says:

    Well it kind of is. Just like english is different in the U.S.A. than in England or Australia. Take the first words of the article "Sacre Bleu". It’s an expression rarely used in Quebec, I would say never even.

  58. Hackangel says:

    I think the law means you that if it exists, you must sell the french version of a game along the english version.

  59. Saintless says:

    Wait, is this seriously worded so that an English-only game can’t be sold if there’s a French one available? No fine print that says if there’s a version that supports both languages, that’s the one that has to be sold? Where did they come up with this law? Utah?

  60. Zero Beat says:

    Wait, French is different in Quebec than it is in France?  Zut alors…


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  61. Mad_Scientist says:

    Wait…. what if by some chance there is a French-only and an English-only version of the game available, but not one with both languages?

    This law is, to put it mildly, absurd, and even apart from the above hypothetical situation will causes lots of potential issues.

  62. janarius says:

    Oh Quebec, trying to keep French alive. Well English-only titles doesn’t prevent French speakers from talking French in online servers. There are some Quebecois players in the Northern Resistance server in Team Fortress 2, let’s see what’s their opinion.

    Those damn French language Czars

  63. ZippyDSMlee says:

    But this is Quebec we are talking about!!


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  64. DarkSaber says:

    The story is dated April 1st guys.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  65. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Its all well and fine to support your ethnicity but not at gun point.


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  66. Sephariel says:

    Agreed, I’m a french-canadian from Quebec and games translated in french are always horrible.

    This law is fucking stupid.

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