Lootboxes (and their associated microtransactions) are a contentious issue. While many appear to have no issues at all with the system (judging from how much money they make for game publishers), some find them analogous to gambling. In Belgium, any sort of gambling – digital or not – needs to have a permit from the country’s gaming commission. They’re now investigating whether Star Wars Battlefront II (and Overwatch) lootboxes are akin to gambling (via PGamesN)
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“If there is a game of chance, it is not possible without a permit from the Gaming Commission,” says Belgian Gaming Commission director Peter Naessen. Should E and Blizzard be found to be using gambling systems in their games, they could be subject to fine of “hundreds of thousands of Euros,” and the games could be removed from sale.
Belgium’s gaming commission’s charter specifically says it want to protect people from the addictive nature of gambling, which lootboxes of this ilk prey on.
“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. For this reason, a number of protective measures have been implemented to protect players against these sorts of potential risks.”
EA has released a statement saying that its lootboxes aren’t gambling, though. Here’s what EA has to say (via Gamespot)
“Creating a fair and fun game experience is of critical importance to EA. The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling. A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all. Once obtained, players are always guaranteed to receive content that can be used in game.”
That sort of rhetoric matches the ESRB’s, who asserted that lootboxes aren’t gambling:
“ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling,” an ESRB spokesperson said “While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.”
Last Updated: November 16, 2017