The Belgian Gamng Commission has come to a conclusion after investigating the claims of premium loot box purchases in AAA games such as Star Wars: Battlefront II or Need For Speed: Payback: premium loot boxes are indeed gambling.
The Belgium based website, VTM Nieuws, is reporting that Belgium’s Minister of Justice wants to nix loot boxes from the market because it’s pretty much gambling. The Kanspel Committee ruled that “The mixing of money and addiction is gambling”.
The Gaming Commission and the Ministry of Justice aren’t just satisfied with banning premium loot boxes in Belgium, however, they plan on taking the fight globally, saying that it will take time and that…
“[…] because we have to go to Europe. We will certainly try to ban it.”
Angry parents who were made aware of the premium loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront II made up an easily readable infographic to inform others about and spread it across Facebook. The image went viral and many potential consumers cancelled pre-orders or opted not to purchase EA’s new Star Wars title.
The Belgian Gaming Commission originally began investigating the matter for games like Star Wars: Battlefront II and Overwatch back on November 15th, 2017. It was just a day later that Electronic Arts announced that they were removing the premium microtransactions from Star Wars: Battlefront II. It was reported that on November 16th, Disney had given EA a phone call to inform them about how they needed to fix the mess after the news about the premium loot boxes went viral and reached mainstream news outlets like CNN and CNBC.
Even the Mouse fears the law… when bad publicity comes along with it.
EA said that the microtransactions being disabled in Star Wars: Battlefront II was only temporary and that they would be coming back.
It looks like if the microtransactions do come back they won’t be in the form of premium loot boxes.
Now, keep in mind that this is purely in relation to microtransactions that are considered gambling, such as random loot boxes that you pay for and you don’t know what you’re getting or what the percentages are of what could be in the box. Essentially the blind roll for items plus the availability to spend was obviously seen as a form of slot machine gambling for the commission, which is why they’re now seeking to have premium loot boxes banned.
The U.K., Gambling Commission was already monitoring the situation beforehand when the news about Middle-Earth: Shadow of War‘s loot boxes broke, but America’s gambling commissions have mostly been mum on the matter. Washington state’s gambling commission only got involved and had Valve issue shut down notices to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive loot box gambling website during the kerfuffle in 2016 involving YouTubers running premium loot box gambling rings.
(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)