Video game loot boxes are now considered criminal gambling by Belgium court
Three big games are now risking fines and even prison
The Belgian Gaming Commission recently concluded that randomized loot boxes in FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are “games of chance.”
The “game of chance” phrase would is defined here by the Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens as situations in which “there is a game where a bet can lead to profit or loss and chance has a role in the game.” This nothing but casino play and we all know by now that chance has very little to do with winning.
The Commission is worried about how the randomized goods are bought with real money “without knowing what benefit it would be” especially in the context where the games don’t disclose the odds of receiving specific in-game items, arstechnica shows.
“Paying loot boxes are not an innocent part of video games that represent themselves as games of skill. Players are tempted and misled, and none of the protective measures for gambling are applied,” Gaming Commission director Peter Naesses explained.
The games mentioned above have to remove their loot boxes or they (as in their publishers) risk huge fines — up to €800,000 — and a five-year imprisonment which can be doubled if “minors are involved.” Which of course they are.
The harshly criticized Star Wars: Battlefront II was also under the Commission scrutiny but following the changes EA made to the game after its launch rendered it “no longer technically forms a game of chance.”
After Star Wars, Electronic Arts modified Need For Speed Payback’s loot crate system as well, making it more generous. So from stupid and mischievous, it became just stupid.
Belgium is one of the first European countries to take measures against this practice but not the only one: the Netherlands also called out FIFA 18, Dota 2, PUBG, and Rocket League for gambling activities.
The US isn’t far behind on this topic, looking into loot box regulations.
I guess maybe it’s time to call them by their name — gambling — and treat it with the seriousness it deserves.