Belgium & US Aiming to Ban Loot Boxes

Belgium & US Aiming to Ban Loot Boxes

Last updated on November 25th, 2017

Concluding a week-long investigation, the Belgian Gaming Commission has reached a consensus that Loot Boxes in videos games such as Star Wars: Battlefront II,  P.U.G.B.  and Overwatch,  are a form of gambling.

Online Video Game Casino

As revealed by VTM News, a Belgium news outlet, their Minister of Justice Koen Geens, has stated that such systems found in many online video games mix “gambling and gaming”  which “is dangerous for the mental health of a child”, “especially at a young age”.

And in light of this, Belgium’s government plans to have all forms of in-game purchases banned throughout the European Union. Which will take time to go into effect as all of its representative nations will need to reach a consensus together.

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And that is not all, as the United States is also stepping in with two Hawaiian lawmakers calling for their own investigation into regulating Loot Boxes and Microtransactions.

Earlier this week, Democratic State Representatives Sean Quinlan and Chris Lee spoke in a press conference, denouncing them as a “predatory practice”  which is “designed to lure kids into spending money.”,  in particular to Battlefront II,  being described as “a Star Wars themed online casino”  by Lee and quoting: “It’s a trap.”

Furthermore, Quinlan and Lee are looking into legislations that “prohibit access”  or “prohibit the sales of these games”  to young children “as well as prohibiting different kinds of mechanisms in those games”  in order to protect them and their families.


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18 comments on “Belgium & US Aiming to Ban Loot Boxes”

  1. Avatar EldritchImagination says:

    ……………………………………………good. Frankly, if companies like these can corrupt a system so badly, I think it needs to be banned entirely to stop it from getting worse. I have never been against microtransactions as a core concept, and still think it can be used positively in game design in a way that benefits both consumer and creator, but this model is just rotten.

  2. Avatar TSMP says:

    And with that, the world became a slightly more tolerable place to live in.

  3. Avatar announakis says:

    Good! Let us hope that this will gather momentum and take effect!

  4. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Right. Elder Scrolls Online does well with microtransactions, as does Overwatch and a few others.

    Trying to charge for each and every unlock, and have combat advantages locked behind a pay wall is bull.

    Don’t forget, they want the players to have a feeling of pride and accomplishment when they unlock Vader. Doesn’t matter if you paid 2100$ or played the game for 10 hours every day for the next year, you get the same amount of good feelings.

    Ban em all as gambling. They are targeting kids with this specifically, as they don’t have the knowledge and experience to say no.

    EA really screwed up, and I’ve seen petitions to Disney to pull the Star Wars licence from them.

  5. Avatar TSMP says:

    That would be really, really funny, and I’d love to see it happen.

  6. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Oh yeah. Basically the petitions say that Disney is a kid friendly company, and EA is harming children by enticing them to steal their parent’s credit card information and gamble in a game.

  7. Avatar Fexelea says:

    I have never been tempted to buy a loot box, but as Lich180 rightly said they are targeting children with this and they do get tempted and want it. I’m glad there’s something being done about the practice before it gets completely out of control.

  8. Avatar Lich180 says:

    The best part is, if they had followed other examples and only given out cosmetic stuff, this wouldn’t have been an issue.

    Instead, they went right for maximum profit with minimal effort, and threw basically every single unlockable into loot boxes and made it almost impossible to get a free loot box through normal gameplay.

    They already had a money machine, between Star Wars and cosmetic microtransactions.

  9. Avatar TSMP says:

    Even with cosmetics I think it’s a bit too much. If I’m supposed to pay for a cosmetic thing in a game, I’d want it to be something I either designed myself, or else commissioned from someone else, with the resulting product being entirely unique to me. Otherwise, what’s even the point? It’s the difference between standing out for having your own style, and standing out because you spent slightly more on the game than someone else.

  10. Avatar Castielle says:

    I honestly think Loot Boxes should be stricken from games like Overwatch and ESO as well. Children still play these games, especially teenagers, who are extremely susceptible to this kind of thing. If they want to make money with add-ons they should simply just sell them in their respective game’s store. No "Loot Boxes" involved.

    Cas

  11. Avatar Lich180 says:

    I do agree that most cosmetics aren’t worth the cost, especially given that they aren’t anything truly unique or special.

    I’ve bought… 3 things from the ESO Crown Store. One is a Dwemer spider mount, and 2 are non-combat pets that I liked. All of those were bought with Crowns earned from the monthly subscription, I would’ve never bought them if I had to buy Crowns directly, or pay RL money for them directly.

    Back with World of Warcraft, I debated buying a few things, but I couldn’t justify spending 25$ (!) on a Kel’thuzad non-combat pet, let alone 50$ for a mount I saw everywhere. With ESO, I don’t have that guilty feeling, because I get an allowance of Crowns to use, along with a bunch of other benefits.

    I don’t see much of a difference between selling cosmetics as add-on in a game store VS a microtransaction in the game itself.

    ESO does have loot boxes that you can only buy with crowns. Those loot boxes have unique, seasonal (and not available in the normal Crown Store) stuff, like hats, mounts, and pets. Anything you get duplicates of you redeem for crystals, and after getting enough crystals you can trade them for the item you do want.

    This is an example of a loot box I DO NOT support. They recently gave away a few boxes to anyone who logged in, one per day for three days. I got a bunch of consumables (no better than normal crafting items) and a cool deer skull hat. But I have no drive to buy any more, because the drop rate of stuff that’s cool is abysmal.

    I believe I’ve seen that China has already classified loot boxes of all kinds as gambling, and forced companies to show actual drop rates. That serves to inform anyone buying crates of their actual odds of getting anything they want.

    A little off topic, but I watch my nephew closely when he plays, as his profile uses my PSPlus sub. Every so often, I catch him trying to buy microtransaction stuff, like NBA2k17 Coins, or games, or add-ons he finds somehow. I have his profile set to an allowance of $0.00, which means he can’t buy anything at all without my password. I also have a dual authentication set up, as an added layer in case he figures out my password.

    Not everyone is as careful as I am, and I fully expect to, at some point, have something bought by him that I didn’t authorize.

  12. Avatar Castielle says:

    Obviously I am concerned that children (teenagers especially) will waste money on these sort of microtransactsions that you mentioned. However, there is a certain amount of freedom that we need to allow people and that is one of them.

    My concern with the Loot Boxes is 1) you don’t know what the chances of you getting anything are or what’s inside. 2) gambling has an addictive element to it that can suck people in easily. It’s a grey area to be sure, Trading Card Packs comes to mind. I loved the feeling of opening up a pack and seeing what I got as a kid. It did, however, tempt me into emptying the coin jar my parents kept in the garage and spending it all on Trading Cards…

    I don’t know if that was just a me problem or that "gambling" element at work though. I haven’t had much of a problem gambling as an adult, although it has been hard for me to leave a Casino on the extremely rare occasion that I do go.

    Cas

    P.S. Half of my animosity is the fact that these Loot Boxes are WAAAAY overpriced to begin with. Either it’s a whole new world or I’m missing something, because a digital Loot Box isn’t worth 10$ to me…

  13. Avatar PrimeraEspada91 says:

    Man oh man if only EA and other companies limited how they worked lootboxes they could have had it all. Easy money, low effort, pretty skins which doesnt improve skill, the equal of burning money. Lootboxes and rng goodies have been a thing for a while and its not until this year which several large companies fully embrace and went full force into this path. A lazy tactic for lazy gaming era which we have entered, why is skill needed when i can just buy what i want. People/players should be more conscious and avoid buying game that have these loot system or a lil less extreme dont purchase anything from them. The idea of loot boxes have been around for ages as in trading cards but i guess self restraint isnt a thing anymore.

  14. Avatar qeter says:

    i withhold judgement until i see the angle and the execution the politicians take on this.

  15. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Should be like gambling, you have to be an adult to do it. No children allowed in casinos, but we are letting casinos go to children

  16. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Thanks for clarifying. The difference in Trading Card games (Pokemon, YuGiOh, Magic the Gathering) is that you buy something physical, that retains value. You are also guaranteed a certain distribution of cards.

    Loot boxes you aren’t guaranteed anything, and what you do get is digital and cannot be resold and doesn’t have any monetary value.

    That’s the reason loot boxes haven’t been classified as gambling yet. They fell into a loophole in the gambling laws. Since you don’t get anything of actual monetary value, it’s not considered gambling. Hopefully that is what they change.

  17. Avatar EldritchImagination says:

    Oh man, I remember being so into Yu-Gi-Yo back when I was a little kid and was only aware of a very few anime. Had a nice little collection of cards I loved so much (along with all my other stuff). Never used it to actually play against someone though, just liked having them. But yeah, with those kind of cards, you’re guaranteed to get at least something of value as you can use more than one of the same card in a deck and all cards have a use, plus yeah, they’re physical items rather than just randomly generated code that could be infinitely copied.

  18. Avatar TSMP says:

    I’m generally okay with how ESO does their online store. The way they have it set up, a person with a paid subscription will get continued incentives to keep that subscription, and a person who doesn’t have a subscription can still get convenience or cosmetic stuff without needing to fork out for a subscription. The lootbox thing is still pretty yuck, but if someone has a subscription they can keep buying them without needing to pay any additional money, so it’s whatever.

    I’m also okay with the loot box business model as tangible, physical objects with real value, but not as digital ones with effectively no value. Sometimes at anime conventions, you find random blind bag goodies that are loot boxes in theory, except if you and a bunch of friends all get one you can swap stuff around until you all have something you want (not something the vendor does, just by virtue of those objects being physical). Same thing with trading cards, and one time I had a M:tG collection with the total market value somewhere in the five digits before I sold it all. There’s this one store near me, and all they do is sell the owner’s old card collection. Like, entire warehouses full of old cards that aren’t in print anymore, but are still tournament legal and have a monetary value far, far beyond what they cost back then. (Also, it helps that you can win tournaments to get more cards as prizes, essentially allowing your collection to grow itself without spending any more money on it.)

    If digital lootboxes behaved in this way, having a market value and being tradeable, giftable, and so on, then I don’t think it’d be as big an issue.


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