Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Belgium declares video game loot boxes illegal

Belgium declares video game loot boxes illegal Belgium declares video game loot boxes illegal
Theresa Hayes | 26 April, 2018, 07:04

The regulator investigated ten video games that featured loot boxes and were available to Dutch players.

The Belgium Gaming Commission has declared Overwatch, CS: GO and Federation Internationale de Football Association 18 to be illegal after conducting some thorough research. A rep for Federation Internationale de Football Association 18 publisher Electronic Arts told GamesIndustry that it would "welcome the dialogue with minister Geens", but also reasserted the company's position that its loot boxes do not constitute gambling. The commission looked at four popular videogames-Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Overwatch, FIFA 18, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive-and found that three of them contain loot boxes that contravene the country's gambling regulations. Star Wars Battlefront 2 was also investigated but it doesn't come in violation as the game removed loot boxes at the launch of the game.

Geens said: 'An interview with the sector is imminent. One of the biggest franchises in video games, Grand Theft Auto, has completely gone away from story-based DLC and has focused primarily on GTA Online, with more companies focusing on creating loot boxes as part of their economy. These charges can be doubled if it can be proved that the "victims" involve minors.

While Belgium's decision might not signify the death knell for loot boxes, it clearly demonstrates that more and more people in positions of power are willing to take action against a practice that is considered by many gamers to be anti-consumer.

"We strongly believe that our games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world, and take these responsibilities very seriously", the rep said. Geens' primary concern is to "ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they are looking for fun in a video game", which implies he doesn't want to shut down games like Federation Internationale de Football Association 18 and Overwatch, just ensure they don't include any form of gambling. "Players are being tempted and misguided and none of the protective measures for gambling are being applied".

The decision follows a ruling by the Dutch Gaming Authority, which set a June 20, 2018 deadline for the publishers to make the necessary changes to their games to comply with Dutch law by applying for a gambling license, and removing "addiction-sensitive" elements from loot boxes.