The backlash against loot boxes continues.
The loot box controversy that stated as a result of the egregious monetization in Star Wars Battlefront 2, and the uproar and backlash around it, has led to actual legislation being introduced for games with monetization around the world. Netherlands has already declared that loot boxes are illegal- and now Belgium has joined the fray, confirming that loot boxes are games of chances, and therefore gambling- and as a result, illegal.
A statement from Minister of Justice Koen Geens said that unless games FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter Strike GO remove loot boxes, their publishers “risk a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros”.
If children are involved with playing those games, those punishments can be doubled, Greens added. Belgium expressed a particular concern about the impact loot boxes have on young people. “It is often children who come into contact with such systems and we cannot allow that,” Geens warned.
Ironically, the only game found to not be guilty in Belgium’s investigation was Star Wars Battlefront 2– because EA removed all loot boxes from it after the backlash.
Still, it remains to be seen now how Belgium and Netherlands’ rulings will influence things. Will publishers stop selling their games in those territories? Make alternate versions of their games that strip out the loot boxes? Just remove loot boxes from their games entirely? I eagerly hope it is that last one.