Second to the loot boxes party
Last week, the Netherlands classified certain loot boxes as gambling and therefore illegal. Now, Belgium has made a similar determination towards three games. These games are FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Star Wars: Battlefront II, one of the other games examined, was deemed okay. However, Star Wars: Battlefront II did have loot boxes early in its post-launch lifespan.
There were three key factors into their decisions of what games constituted the ban. The first was whether a game element was involved. The second was whether a bet could lead to a profit or loss. The third was whether it was based off of chance rather than skill.
Koen Geens, the Belgian Minister of Justice, warned that the loot boxes in the offending games were illegal and demanded their removal. If they weren’t, the publishers “…risk a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros (Currently about $974,700.43)”. Geens also stated that the punishments could be doubled, if minors were involved.
What happens next?
It’s plainly evident that the Star Wars: Battlefront II debacle last year has been a major concern among lawmakers. Koen Geens sought an investigation into loot boxes last year entirely as a result of the Battlefront controversy.
Geens is currently looking to meet with video game publishers and developers with the primary goal of determining who would be responsible for the removal of the loot boxes. Geens stated:
We have already taken numerous measures to protect both minors and adults against the influence of, among other things, gambling advertising… That is why we also must ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they are looking for fun in a video game.”
No date has been set for when the offending loot boxes must be removed. During this time, the developers and publishers will have some tough questions to answer. Will they have to remove features from their games? Can they offer the loot box items in some other fashion? Will other European countries jump on board with gambling classifications? Time will tell how these questions will be answered.
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