After the Belgian gaming commission passed the law that loot boxes would be banned in premium priced games that weren’t issued a gambling license, some publishers have been forced to disable the loot box mechanics in their games. Valve was one of the first to do so, and 2K Games followed suit with disabling the loot boxes in games like NBA 2K. Well, it looks like Blizzard is finally joining suit.
The Belgian gaming commission specifically named Overwatch as one of the culprits of violating the law, along with FIFA and Counter-Strike. In a post made on August 27th, 2018 over on the Overwatch forums, community manager Vaneras wrote…
“In April 2018, the Belgian Gaming Commission published a report that was endorsed by the Belgian Ministry of Justice in which they concluded that paid loot boxes in Overwatch are considered gambling under local law. While we at Blizzard were surprised by this conclusion and do not share the same opinion, we have decided to comply with their interpretation of Belgian law. As a result, we have no choice but to implement measures that will prevent Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm players located in Belgium from purchasing in-game loot boxes and loot chests with real money and gems.
“No matter what, we want to make sure that our players around the world have the best entertainment experience possible. While players in Belgium will no longer be able to purchase paid loot boxes in Overwatch and loot chests in Heroes of the Storm, they’ll still be able to earn them by playing the games, and they’ll still have access to all in-game content.
“These measures will be implemented shortly. We also remain open to further discussions with the Belgian Gaming Commission and Ministry of Justice on this topic.”
Obviously Blizzard disagrees with the assessment because loot boxes are a way for corporations to skirt gambling laws. They claim that since gamers always receive something when gambling for the items they want, it doesn’t make it gambling, even though it’s randomized rewards for real money.
According to almost every state and regional gambling law, loot boxes classify as gambling. However, not every gambling commission recognizes loot boxes as gambling. The Belgium and the Netherlands gaming commissions have treated loot boxes as gambling, and thus publishers have been forced with an ultimatum: either register for a gambling license or remove the gambling mechanisms from the game.
Now the reason that none of the major publishers want to register for a gambling license is because then the games would have to receive the dreaded AO (Adults Only) or 21+ ratings from the ratings boards. This would mean that they could no longer sell games like FIFA or NBA or Overwatch to little kids. In result, some publishers are making the change so that loot boxes are disabled in places like Belgium and the Netherlands.
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