The recent controversy over lootboxes in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 had caught the eye of many outside the gaming media, so much so that government officials were paying attention to the claims of lootboxes being similar to gambling. This led to the news that the Belgium Gaming Commission had started an inquiry into the whole matter in order to determine whether lootboxes and microtransactions did really lead to gambling and addiction.
Well, turns out that they have come to the conclusion that lootboxes with microtransactions attached to them do constitute a form of gambling, and since children are also playing these video games, lootboxes need to be banned.
Belgium’s Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, had this to say:
“The mixing of money and addiction is gambling. Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.”
They will be trying to ban any in-game purchases where the player does not know what exactly he might be getting for that money. This is essentially the definition of lootboxes.
Their ban will be limited to Europe to begin with, but this is setting the precedent for the rest of the world. This is also a clear warning to big publishers – rein in your greed, and don;t try to take advantage of your customers.
While governments getting involved in gaming is not exactly great news, in many ways the gaming industry brought this upon itself. If EA hadn’t been so predatory with its practices, this whole thing never would’ve happened.