Belgian Gambling Commission targets EA and Blizzard over loot boxes
"The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling," says EA
Update: The Dutch Gaming Authority also has now launched a full investigation into whether games with loot boxes should be considered games of chance, as reported by news outlet NU.nl, via Eurogamer.
The debate surrounding loot boxes rages on and while publishers defend the practice, the backlash is undeniable.
As reported by VTM News, the Belgian Gambling Commission is the latest body to get involved following PEGI, the ESRB, and the UK government all coming to broadly the same conclusion that loot boxes don't constitute gambling.
Blizzard and EA are in the eye of the storm with Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront II attracting the commission's attention.
According to Belgian law, games of chance require a permit from the government's Gambling Commission. Given the random nature of loot boxes, they could arguably fall into this category and while it currently seems unlikely, the games could be removed from sale and fines levied against the publishers.
According to the gambling commission: "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."
In a statement issued to GameSpot, EA made its position clear on loot boxes: "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."
During a recent earnings call, EA CEO Andrew Wilson defended loot boxes in Battlefront II arguing that it helped avoid paid-for season pass content that splinters the community.
"So we feel very good about the overall value proposition focused on keeping the player community together," he said.
GamesIndustry.biz has approached both EA and Blizzard for comment and is awaiting a response.