Belgium joins the Netherlands in ruling loot boxes are illegal

In Europe the tide is beginning to turn against one of the largest monetization trends in gaming. Both the Netherlands and Belgium have determined that under their laws loot boxes, such as those found in FIFA 18, CS:GO, and Overwatch qualify as gambling and as such are illegal when included in a video game. While Belgium has not set a date for compliance, the Netherlands has started the clock by giving developers and publishers until June 20th before they begin "enforcement action against providers of games of chance with loot boxes that do not adhere" to rules and regulations they have set forward. These rules are designed to remove the addictive qualities of loot boxes such as the ability to open boxes rapidly in succession and visual effects that give the appearance of the near-miss or "almost winning".

There is no indication from developers and publishers how they intend to meet new regulations in these countries, or if they have any intent to continue supporting their titles in these locations going forward. Although with the likelyhood of such rules being administered throughout members nations of the EU and beyond growing it is likely that companies will reexamine their monetization practices, especially in franchises with massive European popularity such as FIFA and Counter Strike.
 
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ianlafo

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What does this do for other games that arguably have loot-box systems (e.g., Hearthstone and Magic: the Gathering)? I know there are some countries out there where Wizards of the Coast can't host M:tG events due to it being classified as "gambling". Curious if they'd fall under the same (or similar enough) classification in Belgium now?
 

Kurtis James

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In Belgium the findings of the committee were based on the review of just 3 titles (4 originally, but Battlefront 2 removed their payed loot boxes), but those findings are likely to be expanded to other high-profile games fairly soon. Definitely something to keep an eye out for.