In a report by VTM News, as translated via PC Gamer, the Belgian Gaming Commission declares existence of lootboxes as gambling. In a rough translation, Minister of Justice Koen Geens iterates that “The mixing of money and addiction is gambling”. He further adds:
“Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.”
Geens will raise the issue to the European Union and that his government’s representation “… will certainly try to ban it”. Although Geens admits that the process will take time, he would rather concentrate in banning in-game purchases within the country. This only covers in-game purchases that can be unknowingly bought by gamers.
After the Storm
The declaration serves as a prompt response to last weeks lootbox and pay-to-win debacle caused by Battlefront 2’s launch. Since then, three governments – Belgium, Netherlands, and France – started investigations on classification of lootbox mechanics as a form of gambling. As response, EA backpedaled to reducing hero costs, and altogether dropping purchases of in-game currency. Furthermore, the recent outing of Need for Speed Payback managed to sneak in a couple of progression changes.
Despite the widespread backlash, gamers found themselves divided over the issue. One gamer even thinks that the comparisons to gambling are ridiculous, quoting:
There’s even comparisons to gambling – which is ridiculous. When I can actually convert my in-game credits to real money, then I’ll call it gambling.
However, exposure of minors, an included audience of the Star Wars franchise, to simulated gambling may result to introducing gambling habits at a young age. Gambling authorities need to monitor any form of game of chance in governments, just like how Belgium has declared lootboxes as gambling.