Belgium Concludes That Lootboxes Are Gambling, Moves to Ban Them in Europe [Update]

Belgium Concludes That Lootboxes Are Gambling, Moves to Ban Them in Europe [Update]

Update [23/11/2017, 9:44AM NZDT]:

According to Belgian news site RTBF, the country's Gaming Commission hasn't reached a consensus on whether lootboxes constitute gambling. The site goes on, saying that the statement in the original report -- that the "mixing of money and addiction is gambling" -- was descriptive of the investigation's intent.

The publication linked to a new report, which highlights the difficulty of regulating lootboxes with today's current laws. An online translation says that game operators can be "aggressive" in their tactics, and often target "young people."

The Justice Minister's quote from yesterday (below) seems at odds with this current news. As PC Gamer points out, he could have been using the statement to accelerate the discussion.

According to the latest report, the Gaming Commission also appears to be investigating esports betting.

Original story follows:

Last week, the Belgian Gaming Commission announced that they were investigating games like Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront II, to determine if lootboxes constituted gambling. Today they declared that they do count as games of chance in Belgium. They are now looking to extend that ruling to all of Europe.

"The mixing of money and addiction is gambling," the Gaming Commission declared in a Google translation of VTM’s original report.

“Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child,” Belgium’s Minister of Justice Koen Geens added.

If other European countries follow suit, publishers could see themselves landed with massive fines. This could also affect how games are sold throughout the region; any game with microtransactions could be rated adult-only by PEGI. Some retailers refuse to carry games with such ratings. It's unclear if this would also extend to digital marketplaces like PSN and Xbox Live.

We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.

Source: PC Gamer, Game Informer



 

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Comments Comments (21)

 
Posted by Kyimo
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 1:44 PM
11
lol good job EA, that Greed working out for you?

bet every other gaming company/publisher that does something similar is pretty pissed at them right now lol
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 3:07 PM
10
Ho...Ly.... sh*t!

I genuinely did not see that coming. I agree with it, but didn't see that coming. Let's see what comes out of the fallout from this.
 
 
 
Posted by Paorio
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 3:13 PM
3
Get em Belgium!
 
 
 
Posted by predatorhunter
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 3:13 PM
3
Hahaha good
 
 
 
Posted by Outlaw213
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 3:30 PM
5
Hopefully this becomes a trend and more countries follow suit, hopefully this will be the cure to the cancer that is micro-transactions and lootboxes.
 
 
 
Posted by guido
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 4:27 PM
4
Oh boy, this is gonna be good!! Pass me the popcorn! Is this something that they can fight in court? Because I would bet publishers would collectively throw hundreds of millions at getting this overturned rather than lose out on billions in lost revenue!
 
 
 
Posted by MonkeyMan
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 5:34 PM
1
This is an interesting development. I'm very interested to see how this plays out and what effect it actually has (will they change their ways or just turn microtransactions off in that region or just rate the games as adults only).
 
 
 
Posted by kniteowl
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 6:47 PM
2
Cue EA pulling out the Darth Vader “Noooooooooooooooo.....”
 
 
 
Posted by cortez72
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 7:12 PM
2
The NZ Classification office has been looking into this, raising it with some Goverment agencies, while no actions are currently being taken, there are discussions.

The gambling unit of the Department of Internal Affairs doesn’t consider loot boxes ‘gambling per se’, while the consumer protection team at the Ministry of BIE feel it’s outside of their scope of knowledge.

However, with Hawaii and Belgium making waves I’d expect this will be more than just water cooler talk for these agencies in the next few months.
 
 
 
Posted by CloudAxel16
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 7:56 PM
2
I wonder what happens if they do ban loot-boxes? Does it only include loot-boxes or all micro-transactions? Do games already with loot-boxes have to be patched? Also weird with all the mobile micro-transactions and they draw the line at Star Wars?
 
 
 
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 11:40 PM
2
Good!
Hope EA get roasted, and all devs/pubs take notice.
Glad to see its hit breaking point as its way out of control. and hurting the core game.
 
 
 
Posted by AsianFella
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 12:06 AM
1
Good riddance. Though I imagine lootboxes will be rebranded as something else while performing the same function
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 6:32 AM
2
Aha looks like nzgm jumped the gun there appears to have been no such ruling.
 
 
 
Posted by sakuraba
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 9:04 AM
1
Good job, ea has been trying to screw us for a while but their star wars shocker was too obvious.
 
 
 
Posted by czk51
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 10:31 AM
1
Coincidentally enough the microtransactions were pulled at the same time as this news started breaking back on the 17th.
 
 
 
Posted by toner
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 12:16 PM
-
It sucks for devs/pubs that do MTX well (Overwatch, for example), only to get shat on because another dev/pub did a crap job of it.

It sucks for some consumers, too, who want to reward devs for making a good game, but can't give them a bit more money. I occasionally buy loot boxes on Overwatch because after 18 months and countless hours on the game, I want to give them a bit more to say "hey, thanks for making a good game." If this ban actually takes place, we'll have no choice but to pay more for games.
 
 
 
Posted by guido
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 12:39 PM
2
22 November 2017, 07:56 PM Reply to CloudAxel16
I wonder what happens if they do ban loot-boxes? Does it only include loot-boxes or all micro-transactions? Do games already with loot-boxes have to be patched? Also weird with all the mobile micro-transactions and they draw the line at Star Wars?
They're only concerned where it's a random outcome that costs real money which equals gambling. Pay to win, pay to unlock stuff already on the disc etc isn't what they're concerned with. As long as the game reveals the contents before you buy that's cool with them. A game like The Simpsons Tapped Out (EA) has virtual lotto / 'scratchies' in game called Scratch-R's that cost real money. This sort of thing will be the first thing on the chopping block! And I'd say it's about time!!
 
 
 
Posted by I3ridgeI3urner
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 1:16 PM
1
Further on the topic: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/11/victorias-gambling-regulator-loot-boxes-constitute-gambling/
 
 
 
Posted by I3ridgeI3urner
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 1:22 PM
2
23 November 2017, 01:16 PM Reply to I3ridgeI3urner
Further on the topic: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/11/victorias-gambling-regulator-loot-boxes-constitute-gambling/
An American state perspective: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/11/hawaii-wants-to-fight-the-predatory-behavior-of-loot-boxes/
 
 
 
Posted by cortez72
On Thursday 23 Nov 2017 2:48 PM
1
23 November 2017, 12:16 PM Reply to toner
It sucks for devs/pubs that do MTX well (Overwatch, for example), only to get shat on because another dev/pub did a crap job of it.

It sucks for some consumers, too, who want to reward devs for making a good game, but can't give them a bit more money. I occasionally buy loot boxes on Overwatch because after 18 months and countless hours on the game, I want to give them a bit more to say "hey, thanks for making a good game." If this ban actually takes place, we'll have no choice but to pay more for games.
Not necessarily, it will force those same loot box gated items into the market. Their price may increase, but if you feel they add value to the title you can buy those instead.
 
 
 
Posted by Relmed
On Friday 24 Nov 2017 11:31 PM
-
Well, I for one am gutted. I'm all about throwing cash away for a slim chance at something rad; as long as it is purely cosmetic, that is.