Home Gaming The Belgian Gaming Commission says loot boxes are gambling and should be banned

The Belgian Gaming Commission says loot boxes are gambling and should be banned

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Last week we told you that the Belgian Gaming Commission was investigating the loot boxes in games like Star Wars: Battlefront and Overwatch, to determine whether microtransactions-enabled loot boxes amounted to gambling or not.

“If there is a game of chance, it is not possible without a permit from the Gaming Commission,” said Belgian Gaming Commission director Peter Naessen, with the commissions charter specifically saying that “Games of chance cannot be compared to any other kind of economic services. They may cause people to become addicted to gambling and cause them to lose a great deal of money.”

Belgium’s VTM news has reported (via PC Gamer and some dodgy Google Translation) that the gaming commission has already decided that loot boxes are akin to gambling. “The mixing of money and addiction is gambling,” says the commission.

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

To that end, they’re looking to have loot boxes banned in the whole of Europe. If you don’t know exactly what it is you’re purchasing with your hard-earned money, then it’s gambling, and it either needs to have a special permit or be banned. It’s actually similar to the situation in China, where legislation ensures that those who buy loot boxes know the exact odds of what they’ll be getting out.

Both EA and the ESRB assert that in-game loot boxes aren’t gambling because you’re guaranteed to always get something, a bit like a lucky packet. Only, instead of sweets and a cheap toy, that lucky packet is filled with sadness.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect their ruling will have on the future of loot boxes, which have become a cash cow for games publishers. Naturally, it’ll take some time before we see its effects, but given that they want to push legislation throughout the European Union, it may be profound.

Last Updated: November 22, 2017

40 Comments

  1. Skittle

    November 22, 2017 at 07:36

    Mugabe resigns, loot boxes being banned.. today is a good day

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief

      November 22, 2017 at 08:16

      Awwwwwwyeah

      Reply

      • Lord Chaos

        November 22, 2017 at 08:26

        BAN HAMMER!

        Reply

  2. Magoo

    November 22, 2017 at 07:37

    Not only do they make good beer, it seems they make good decisions too.

    Reply

  3. Ottokie

    November 22, 2017 at 08:00

    • ReverendFunk

      November 22, 2017 at 09:02

      Ugh -5 points for Entourage gif

      Reply

      • Ottokie

        November 22, 2017 at 09:16

        +5 points for Belgium engineering.

        Reply

      • Ottokie

        November 22, 2017 at 09:17

        Also. It could have been worse and I could have used a Deadpool gif

        Reply

  4. Original Heretic

    November 22, 2017 at 08:12

    Jeez, finally some higher ups with common sense. Now let’s hope they CAN get the rest of Europe to follow their reasoning.

    Reply

  5. Admiral Chief

    November 22, 2017 at 08:16

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    Reply

  6. Admiral Chief

    November 22, 2017 at 08:22

  7. Kapitan Balalaika

    November 22, 2017 at 08:29

    More of this please.

    Reply

  8. Gavin Mannion

    November 22, 2017 at 08:29

    Side note, my Overwatch addiction is still going strong and a few months back Blizzard announced changes to their lootboxes to drastically reduce duplicates.

    They rolled out the patch and they did indeed drastically reduce duplicates which I thought was a great move. However what has actually transpired is that they added in, what feels like millions, of sprays, voice lines and other crap no one cares about. So I’m still not getting the cool skins that I want and now that I am not getting any more duplicates I’m also not getting money to buy the skins.

    Previously when you got a duplicate you got given in game currency instead which quickly piled up and which I then used to by the legendary’s I wanted. Now.. I have no money and no skins.

    Sucks.. so careful what you wish for when it comes to Loot boxes..

    Also, Overwatch loot boxes aren’t gambling IMO as it’s purely cosmetic and nothing you *win* can be exchanged for real world goods. If the loot boxes break either of those rules then I agree it’s gambling

    Reply

    • ReverendFunk

      November 22, 2017 at 08:50

      Overwatch should not get a pass at all. If they weren’t meant to be addictive, why add all the music and lights to the process. It’s predatory and just as bad as EA and all the rest of them.

      Reply

      • Gavin Mannion

        November 22, 2017 at 08:53

        It is meant to be addictive, I have no issue with that. Gaming is designed to be addictive. I don’t need a nanny state telling me what I can and can’t do.

        I don’t see Overwatch as gambling, I do see Hearthstone as gambling as their loot boxes change the game. It shouldn’t be banned but any gambling means the game should get a 18+ rating and a sign on the box is all

        Reply

        • ReverendFunk

          November 22, 2017 at 08:57

          Government regulation is there to protect society from their own worst impulses.

          Games have always had addictive mechanics in them, but asking real money for a chance to gamble, in game you have already paid for, can never be condoned.

          Preying on addictive behaviour in products that are marketed and sold to children and young adults can’t be right.

          Reply

          • Original Heretic

            November 22, 2017 at 09:49

            “Government regulation is there to protect society…”

            In a perfect world, yes. In this world, not even close….

          • Gavin Mannion

            November 22, 2017 at 10:06

            I am not for regulation at all, or at least in very few situations. I believe all drugs should be decriminalised and all sex work legalised.

            Governments should be informing their citizens of the dangers related to these things but removing the free will of mature and competent adults is going to far.

            If someone wants gambling in their game then go wild, but ensure it is clearly indicated and behind the correct age recommendation.

          • Magoo

            November 22, 2017 at 10:45

            It’s centuries too late for that kind of thinking.

          • ReverendFunk

            November 22, 2017 at 10:45

            You simply cannot trust big corporations to carry on without regulation. They will use every strategy to manipulate and exploit the consumer. They don’t want some of the money, they want all the money.

            They are stimulating gambling addiction in kids. It’s being marketed to them too. So not only should they put massive warning labels on like cigarettes, they should also ban all advertising for these games with “gambling lite” mechanics.

        • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

          November 22, 2017 at 09:41

          Like 18+ ratings ever stopped any child in the world, ever lol.

          Parents never look at what their kids are buying and playing, and don’t take video games seriously enough to heed any restrictions. They will always see video games as kids toys.

          Reply

          • Gavin Mannion

            November 22, 2017 at 10:04

            Bad parenting shouldn’t mean that other people need to suffer.

        • FAQyoumate

          November 22, 2017 at 10:59

          Same shit but with diffrent animation. The lootboxes don’t have to give you an ingame advantage to be considered gambling, they just have to make you spend real money. Overwatch lootboxes do just that

          Reply

          • Gavin Mannion

            November 22, 2017 at 12:01

            I think the definition is very important.. One is a lucky packet with no value and the other implies value

          • FAQyoumate

            November 22, 2017 at 13:07

            It uses the same gambling mechanics — it’s the same thing.

      • Lord Chaos

        November 22, 2017 at 08:54

        I have no problem with cosmetic rewards for spending time playing a game. It’s when that crap can be sold off (read CS:GO and PUBG) that I start hating on games and refuse to play them.

        Overwatch might be threading the needle, but I think Diablo 3 has the right idea

        Reply

        • ReverendFunk

          November 22, 2017 at 08:58

          Don’t forget the total fiasco of the RMA at the launch of Diablo 3. People have short memories when it comes to Blizzard.

          Reply

          • Lord Chaos

            November 22, 2017 at 09:00

            True, but that’s been dead for years, I’ve been getting cosmetic rewards for doing tasks in season and that’s what makes the game fun again

          • ReverendFunk

            November 22, 2017 at 10:48

            It just stands as reminder that if enough people stand up for their consumer rights, real change for the better can be achieved.

  9. Admiral Chief

    November 22, 2017 at 08:33

  10. Original Heretic

    November 22, 2017 at 08:44

    It’s a tad premature to celebrate this. Just because one country now views it this way, it doesn’t mean that things are going to change.
    For all we know, gaming in Belgium might now be hindered in some way.

    Reply

    • miaau

      November 22, 2017 at 08:55

      Who is Tad and is he dealing with the premature celebrations?

      Also, this was an issue a few years back as well, some rights groups in the US were calling the loot boxes or whatever gambling as you paid real money to get random thing.

      Reply

      • Original Heretic

        November 22, 2017 at 08:59

        My point exactly.
        What was done in response to their outcry? Were loot boxes removed?
        Nyet.
        Change in an industry happens when consumers force it to happen. Only if people stop buying loot boxes completely will it force the companies to stop including them.

        Reply

        • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

          November 22, 2017 at 09:37

          Exactly, been saying this for years. Money talks, not legislation. No money = no lootboxes, no microtranspatches, no season pass, and all manner of stupid, stupid, shit sold to stupid, stupid people.

          Reply

  11. Skyblue

    November 22, 2017 at 10:07

    “a bit like a lucky packet. Only, instead of sweets and a cheap toy, that lucky packet is filled with sadness.” – This broke me and made my day LOL

    Reply

  12. Caveshen Rajman

    November 22, 2017 at 10:53

    Well damn.

    Reply

  13. Ghost In The Rift

    November 22, 2017 at 12:43

    https://youtu.be/_akwfRuL4os

    And so the Snow ball starts rolling…….

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      November 22, 2017 at 14:55

      Did they have to find a gamer that looked like a stereotypical gamer?

      Reply

      • Ghost In The Rift

        November 22, 2017 at 17:53

        lol bet you he’s the only stereotypical gamer on the island with a shirt like that.

        Reply

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