Overwatch Loot Boxes Are Now Illegal in Belgium

It is has now been made into law by several states and countries that Blizzard’s microtransactions commonly known as lootboxes are in fact stated as online gambling. Because not only is the content locked behind a paywall,you would have to purchase multiple lootboxes to get the desired content which enables these companies to exploit their customers for more profits than what they originally worth. This is no different than purchasing a online digital lottery ticket. This is a form of soft-extortion that takes advantage of their customers that have already paid for a full game only to slowly but surely lacing the fact that if you want a certain particular skin you will have to give surrender your wallet. It is not within Activison-Blizzard’s motive to simply sell you the skin at a reasonable price. This has created a generation of online gamblers and are fully aware that they want to fleece their customers as much as possible before these laws are enforced indefinitely.

This is straight from the Belgium government that Blizzard is in clear violation of certain laws and will have to pay serious fines,imprisonment and is open to class action lawsuits against their company. Here is the official page straight from the Belgium government translated into English. The audacity that not only did I pay $60 for a game I had to grind for 700+ hours only to unlock 30% of the content,this includes the seasonal content that Blizzard decides to pile on top of. The lootbox system is in fact rigged to give you content for least used characters in your game time roster meanwhile they want you to grind even harder or pay up to unlock skins for heroes that you play the most. If you think that this is just another gamer’s opinion,you are objectively wrong. I have a similar article exposing Activision-Blizzard’s malicious practices and how they exploit you for profit.

At the request of Minister of Justice Koen Geens, the Gaming Commission conducted a thorough investigation into ‘loot boxes’ in video games. Players can buy a ‘loot box’ against payment – which can give them an advantage in the game – without knowing their contents in advance. The Gaming Commission now judges that this is at least three video games in violation of the gambling legislation. ‘An interview with the sector is imminent. It is often children who come into contact with such systems and we can not allow that, ‘says Minister of Justice Geens.

The issue of the loot boxes came recently in the media when the game Star Wars Battlefront II was launched. In that game people could buy an advantage with real money without knowing what benefit it would be. Given the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable players, this was very worrying. Minister Geens then requested an investigation from the gambling committee.

The Gaming Commission investigated four video games: Star Wars Battlefront II, Overwatch, FIFA 18 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. They all belong to the genre AAA games, being video games that reach millions of people around the world, often produced by large studios. Those video games are connected to their own age system (PEGI). That system decides on the content of video games, but does not consider whether there is systematic use, winning or losing of real money.

However, developers are increasingly using systems to get players to real money once they have purchased a game. The Gaming Commission is talking about:

  • Emotional profit forecast: uncertainty loot box is linked to profit forecast;
  • A player may think that the purchase of a loot box has an advantage, which is not always the case
  • Confusion of fiction and reality: well-known real people promote the most expensive loot boxes;
  • Use your own coin system: for a real amount, players can buy in-game coins;
  • Apparently infinite methods to deposit money on player accounts;
  • Hide from the random generator or at least its opacity.

To speak of a game of chance, the Gaming Commission uses four parameters. If there is a game element , a bet can lead toprofit or loss and chance has a role in the game. In the case of FIFA 18, Overwatch and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, the Gaming Commission considers that the system of loot boxes is a game of chance that is subject to Belgian gaming law. The developer of Star Wars Battlefront II made some adjustments shortly after the launch, so that the system of loot boxes in that game no longer technically forms a game of chance.

Although the system of loot boxes in the three other video games can be seen as a game of chance, there is always lack of protection for the players. The fact that it is often minor players is worrying. The hidden character of gambling is extra problematic in the case of children. If this is not properly arranged, games of chance in video games will cause great damage to people, family and society.

The games with paid loot boxes, as currently offered in our country, are therefore in violation of the gaming legislation and can be dealt with under criminal law. The loot boxes must therefore also be removed. If that does not happen, the operators risk a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros. When minors are involved, those punishments can be doubled.

Minister of Justice Koen Geens therefore wishes to enter into a dialogue soon, both with the developers, operators and the Gaming Commission. Together we can see who should take responsibility where. “Mixing games and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for mental health. We have already taken numerous measures to protect both minors and adults against the influence of, among other things, gambling advertising. That is why we must also ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they are looking for fun in a video game. “

Peter Naessens, director of the Gaming Commission : “Paying loot boxes are not an innocent part of video games that present themselves as games of skill. Players are tempted and misled, and none of the protective measures for gambling is applied. Now that it is clear that children and vulnerable people in particular are exposed to them unprotected, game manufacturers but also parties such as FIFA, for example, are called upon to call a halt to this practice. “