The loot box controversy is heating up in Belgium as Nintendo announced this week that it will be discontinuing both Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes in the region this August.
Nintendo’s full statement on the matter can be found on its official website, which has been translated by the folks over at Eurogamer. In short, Nintendo is pulling its two hugely popular mobile games “due to the current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models.” That’s an oddly roundabout way of saying, “You can’t have loot boxes in your games in Belgium so, instead of pulling them out of our games, we’re just pulling the entire game instead.”
In case you happen to be reading this from Belgium, know that your in-game premium currencies can be used through Aug. 27, at which point the games will be removed from mobile marketplaces and, for those who have already downloaded them, they will become unplayable. While it’s not stated in the announcement, I assume this means that you can no longer buy those premium currencies within the game.
Both Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem Heroes have a form of loot boxes. You can pay real-world money in the hopes of getting certain items in the former or specific heroes in the latter. The issue in Belgium seems to be with these specific types of systems where you pay for something without knowing what it is. Other types of premium exchanges in games don’t seem to be receiving the same scrutiny. In other words, they’re fine with players paying a buck for an in-game shirt if the customer knows what shirt they are getting. If it’s a system of chance, though, Belgium considers it gambling.
While some developers have simply re-worked their games to get rid of these types of mechanics, it looks like Nintendo is just pulling the cord entirely. Also, the announcement states any future games from the publisher with similar mechanics will not be released in Belgium. The Mario Kart mobile game is set to go into testing soon, so it’ll be interesting to see if Nintendo is selling mystery customization items, characters or karts in that game, too.