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Belgium Concludes that Loot Boxes are Gambling, Will Try and Ban Them in Europe

Belgium's Gaming Commission has reached a conclusion on loot boxes.

News by Matt Kim, .

Belgium's Gaming Commission announced last week that the body would be investigating whether or not loot boxes in games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Overwatch could be considered a form of gambling. Well the investigation appears to have reached a conclusion. According to VTM News the Commission has ruled yes, loot boxes are a form of gambling.

According to a Google translation (via PCGamer), "The mixing of money and addiction is gambling," said Belgium's Gaming Commission. Belgium's Minister of Justice Koen Geens added that "Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child."

Apparently Geens wants to ban in-game purchases like loot boxes in both Belgium and abroad. He explained that while Belgian officials will have to go to Europe to enforce their findings, the Belgian government "will certainly try to ban it."

This is a dramatic ruling in Belgium, and potentially Europe, but we'll have to find out how this affects the rest of the world.

There has been a huge uproar about unfair loot practices featured in recent video game release, particularly Triple-A games. Star Wars Battlefront 2 in particular suffered a huge controversy where gamers accused EA of promoting unfair loot practices in the game. As a result, EA temporarily removed loot boxes from the game, explaining that the company will revisit loot boxes after finding a better "balance."

This story is developing and we will update this post with any new revelations.

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Comments 12

  • Avatar for link6616 #1 link6616 24 days ago
    I haven't really thought much about Belgium in a long time, and have little to no opinion about them, but I'm a little bit thankful.
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  • Avatar for nimzy #2 nimzy 24 days ago
    I expect CCGs are going to be next at this rate.
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  • Avatar for not_themilkybarkid #3 not_themilkybarkid 24 days ago
    This is the best thing to come out of Belgium since Poirot.
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  • Avatar for Daikaiju #4 Daikaiju 24 days ago
    "If it's Tuesday, then this must be Belgium!"
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  • Avatar for Vodka-Tonic #5 Vodka-Tonic 24 days ago
    @not_themilkybarkid How dare you leave out the mussels and frites! Watching Poirot WHILE EATING MUSSELS AND FRITES. Sorry, I got carried away.
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  • Avatar for moochan #6 moochan 24 days ago
    I could see the EU enforcing the ruling. And who knows maybe the US gaming commission will do something with some pressure at looking into it. Leave it to EA to do something so insanely dumb that they got the whole world against them. I know it's a fun joke but man sometimes they really seem to love being voted the worse company ever.
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  • Avatar for themblan #7 themblan 24 days ago
    Best news I've heard all year.Edited 4 weeks ago by themblan
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #8 KaiserWarrior 23 days ago
    @moochan Thing is, this kind of thing isn't new. Korean F2P MMOs, in particular, have been selling character power in GambleBoxes for almost a decade now, possibly more (I'm not sure exactly when Ragnarok Online started selling boxes).

    EA's just the first big-name western publisher to be brazen enough to try it in a full-priced, high-profile retail game.
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  • Avatar for moochan #9 moochan 23 days ago
    @KaiserWarrior Doing it with Star Wars really didn't help them did it. Loot boxes was slowly becoming more and more of a problem over the last couple of years but this year really took off (mostly because of how successful Overwatch was with it). EA just jumped the gun and went right into the shark infested waters instead of going in slowly hoping people will calm down over the course of a few years. Mike has a great article on that http://www.usgamer.net/articles/the-history-of-gaming-microtransactions-from-horse-armor-to-loot-boxes
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #10 UnskippableCutscene 23 days ago
    The thing to keep in mind that is this goes back in PC gaming to TeamFortress 2's crates. And it's an economic model of it's own that's been tweaked and worked with to be consumer-friendly within it's bounds. For instance, consumers don't want pure RNG, they want a system that gives them more things they don't have than things they've gotten already.

    Dota 2 and Overwatch both tweaked their utility because of this. Dota's chests have about 8-10 cosmetic sets for the game's 100+ heroes, and each time you buy one you'll get one you haven't gotten already until you eventually collect them all. In this regard, it's a similar principle to a Happy Meal toy: you don't know what the restaurant is going to give you, but if you get something you had before you can ask for a different one. Unless you already have everything the shop has, in which case you'll get some ice cream (or credits to buy another cosmetic, or the right to sell it on Steam Marketplace, or whatever.)

    In Overwatch's case, the game now gives you stuff you haven't had before, it doesn't weaponize duplicates as a No-Prize with poor return, which is important if you're going to judge these things for actual monetary worth.

    I will preface that I live in a city steeped in gambling, so I wince at this meme that they are the same thing as Video Poker, but really this doesn't meet my definition of the word any more than buying a Bag O' Crap from Woot! does. Or throwing money at the Cards Against Humanity holiday promotion which is presently promising some undefined yet politically-relevant gifts. Or buying a LootCrate. These are all moments in life where someone sells something by saying, "hey, make this purchase and get a thing! It might be cool!"

    The key thing to understand about boxes and crates, going back to Dota and it's 100+ heroes, is that they do allow there to be a market for cosmetic for less-than-popular heroes. If you allowed people to just buy whatever cosmetics they like off a menu, a lot of lesser-played characters would have thin selections while certain heroes (ones that look badass or are widely thought of as sexy) would have too many.Edited 4 weeks ago by UnskippableCutscene
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #11 UnskippableCutscene 23 days ago
    @moochan By the way, there is no such thing as a "US Gaming Commission". Gambling in the US is regulated by individual states. Some states have no casinos, some states have no official casino legislation beyond permitting tribal casinos, and some states such as Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and more regulate it themselves.
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  • Avatar for moochan #12 moochan 23 days ago
    @UnskippableCutscene Oh thanks. Thought there was a federal oversight while states can chose to have one or not. Never stepped into a casino and my state of Massachusetts only recently agreed to gambling so I never really dealt with it.
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