Loot Boxes are Illegal Now. The Belgian Gaming Commision reviewed loot box implementation in Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and CS:GO, and. Officials in Belgium have determined that loot boxes violate the country's gambling laws and if publishers don't remove them from their games, they face jail time. Inability to purchase Loot Boxes as a Belgian player. located in Belgium from purchasing in-game loot boxes and loot chests with real money and gold.
Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch Loot Boxes Unavailable for BelgiumLoot Boxes are Illegal Now. The Belgian Gaming Commision reviewed loot box implementation in Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and CS:GO, and. Belgium bans "loot boxes" in games, and users applaud. In general, gaming companies tread a not-so-fine line between encouraging. Eine Lootbox (auch als Loot Crate, Prize Crate oder Beutebox bekannt) ist ein virtueller Behälter in Computerspielen, der eine zufällige Sammlung bestimmter.
Belgium Loot Boxes Which games feature loot boxes? VideoFinland Takes Cue From Belgium And Has Begun Investigating Loot Boxes
With the financial success of Overwatch and its loot-box systems, several games in and included the mechanic as part of its meta-game,  including Call of Duty , Halo 5: Guardians , Battlefield , League of Legends ,  Paragon , Gears of War 4 , and FIFA By late , a large number of core AAA games from key franchises released near this time, including Middle-earth: Shadow of War , Forza Motorsport 7 and NBA 2K18 , with varying mechanics in their loot-box systems, led to critical review of the practice starting in October Due to reactions to loot boxes starting in late , some developers and publishers have pulled loot boxes from their games.
Loot boxes with random content are still available as free in-game rewards, but, after the March patch, cosmetic options are available for direct purchase with real money as well.
Loot boxes are considered part of the compulsion loop of game design to keep players invested in a game. Proponents for the use of loot boxes have countered complaints that they are gambling systems by likening them to opening collectible toys such as Hatchimals  or booster packs from physical collectible card games CCGs like Magic: the Gathering.
In the United States CCGs have been subject to previous legal challenges related to if they are a form of gambling, but were not found liable.
Some have argued the increased use of loot boxes in games since Overwatch was due to the perception that the act of opening loot boxes is an exciting element for a game for both the player, and those watching the player either on YouTube videos or through live streaming , creating a number of multi-million subscriber video streams solely dedicated to opening loot boxes.
Games with randomised in-game rewards, including those from loot boxes, and which offer the means to trade these items with other players, are known to attract the use of skin gambling.
In skin gambling, these customization items, "skins", become a black market virtual currency among players and operators of websites that allow players to trade the items for real-world funds, or to use those items to gamble on esports or other games of chance ; subsequently these activities have been identified as gambling by legal authorities, and several legal challenges arose in the last half of to stop this practice.
Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive , updated in to include randomised loot drops from in-games, has been the most visible example of skin gambling by mid Some loot-box systems within free games are criticised as "pay-to-win" systems, and may be derogatorily referred to as "pay-to-loot".
In these cases, the contents of the loot box contain items, beyond superficial customization options, which directly affect gameplay, such as booster packs for a digital collectible card game, and with the impact on gameplay proportional to the item's rarity.
This can tie the quality of a player's ability to compete with others to the random generation systems of the loot pack, and may drive players into paying for additional loot boxes to obtain high-rarity items to fairly compete with others.
Some commentators expressed concern that for these types of loot-box models to be successful for the publishers, the game itself has to be designed around promoting and encouraging the player to purchase loot boxes, which fundamentally impacts core game design principles and may weaken the underlying game mechanics.
For example, Middle-earth: Shadow of War has a second, true ending requiring the player to gain many more stronger allies to meet its higher difficulty.
While the developers playtested the balance of the game without the loot-box system activated, assuring the game could be completed without additional monetisation, reviewers found that the game required a great deal of time needed to complete numerous additional missions for the chance to acquire stronger allies, and with the consistent presence of the in-game market for loot boxes, made it difficult to avoid the allure of paying real money to bypass this grinding, creating a negative on the overall experience.
The implementation of some loot-box systems are considered anti-consumer by some players and commentators.
Full-priced games which already provide downloadable content and then include a loot-box system have been heavily criticised by players.
Developers and publishers consider loot boxes part of a necessary process of monetising AAA video games beyond their initial sale. Monetisation schemes like loot boxes can help provide long tail revenue, well after the release of the game.
Developers noted that the decision to include loot boxes in a game, and how they will be priced in real-world funds, may come from their publisher or upper management, but the implementation of their mechanics, including what they include, how they are doled out, and the like, are frequently set by the developers themselves.
Blizzard Entertainment 's Overwatch 's loot box implementation does not impact gameplay, but other aspects of the system are subject to criticism.
A free crate is given to the player each time the player reaches enough experience to level-up, but the rate of experience acquisition varies with player skill.
While any item contains only cosmetic appeal and has no influence on gameplay, the desire for a specific item creates a strong incentive to purchase additional crates.
Principally an online multiplayer shooter, Battlefront II was developed to eliminate the "season pass" approach that the original game had used, which was found to have split the player base over those that paid for the added content and those that did not.
These schemes include a loot-box system providing, among other rewards, "Star Cards" that provide boosts to a specific character class, and which have tiered levels tied to rarity that provide greater boosts.
Because these higher-tier Star Cards give direct advantages to players willing to acquire many loot boxes with real money than at the rate one would obtain simply playing the game, its loot-box system at the time of its open beta period had been described as one of the more egregious "pay-to-win" systems for a full-price game.
EA did re-evaluate this approach in response to criticism, and prior to full release, reworked the loot-box system so that some items still offered in loot boxes like Star Cards could also be earned through other routes such as in-game achievements, in-game currency, or through direct monetary purchase.
The combined loot-box and micro-transaction systems, all elements of "pay to win" schemes, drew even more criticism. Just hours before the game's official launch, EA and DICE temporarily disabled all micro-transaction purchases until they figured out a way to offer these systems in a favorable manner for consumers; DICE stated: "We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing, and tuning" before they are reintroduced.
Disney, knowing the franchise draws in younger players, feared the loot-box systems would contribute towards gambling behavior in children.
The player reaction to Battlefront 's loot-box system led to the Belgian Gambling Commission to evaluate the nature of loot boxes specifically in Battlefront.
In the United States, it generated legislative debates about a potential sales ban within Hawaii and some other US states. Analysts expect that EA will have to re-evaluate how they monetise games in the future to avoid similar backlashes, which may further reduce future revenues.
This, coupled with the removal of micro-transactions from the game while they readdressed the loot-box approach, led to the game missing EA's revenue projections for that quarter.
And we won't. Electronic Arts also published the FIFA series of association football games in annual installments, using the appearances and attributes of the real-world athletes in the teams on the league.
Part of more recent entries in the system include its "Ultimate Team" mode, where players can form their own teams by collecting "cards" of these players, which have been offered through virtual card packs that can be purchased with in-game currency or real-world funds Points currency.
While this is a similar mechanism to other games using loot box mechanics, the use here is criticised due to the fact that cards earned from one version of the game do not carry over into the next year's version.
Thus, players must work to regain a competitive team by re-earning in-game credits or spending more money by buying additional points, with the potential to continue that cycle each year.
Because of their use of random chance to gain items after committing real-world funds, games using loot boxes may be considered a form of gambling.
Games with loot-box systems have become subject to regulation in several Asian countries, while questions of the legality of loot boxes are under consideration in some Western ones.
In December , China's Ministry of Culture announced legislation which required "online game publishers" to publicly release from May onwards the "draw probability of all virtual items and services".
The law also banned game publishers from directly selling "lottery tickets" such as loot boxes. In June , Blizzard Entertainment announced that, "in line with the new laws and regulations", loot boxes in their game Overwatch would no longer be available for purchase in China.
Players would instead buy in-game currency and receive loot boxes as a "gift" for making the purchase. Effective November , China's General Administration of Press and Publication prohibited the sale of loot boxes to users under eight years of age and restricted their sale to older users under 18 years of age to a maximum monthly spending limit ranging from renminbi to renminbi.
This was done not by introducing any new legislation, but by issuing a legal opinion that virtual items could be considered "prizes" under existing legislation written in to prevent the complete gacha practice in the context of baseball trading cards.
Within a month of the opinion being issued, all major Japanese game publishers had removed complete gacha rules from their games, though many developers found ways around these rules.
In March , members of South Korea 's National Assembly , led by the Liberty Korea Party , proposed amendments to the country's existing games industry regulation that would require games companies to release "information on the type, composition ratio, and acquisition probability" of items granted by loot boxes.
In October , Singapore's parliament passed The Remote Gambling Act, which introduced a ban on unlicensed gambling websites and fines for anyone violating it.
The law's definition of gambling included staking "virtual credits, virtual coins, virtual tokens, virtual objects or any similar thing that is purchased In response to games industry lobbying home affairs minister S.
Iswaran clarified the law in parliament, stating that "the Bill does not intend to cover social games in which players do not play to acquire a chance of winning money and where the game design does not allow the player to convert in-game credits to money or real merchandise outside the game".
The minister also specifically excluded platforms which offered "virtual currencies which can be used to buy or redeem other entertainment products", such as Steam , from the provisions of the bill.
The fact is that the line between social gaming and gambling is increasingly becoming blurred. What may appear benign today can quickly morph into something a lot more sinister tomorrow in response to market opportunities and consumer trends.
That is why the legislation is cast broadly. Within Australia, games with loot boxes would fall under gambling restrictions if they can be played "for money or anything else of value"; the question remains if items that only exist within game have "value" that can be quantified, even if this is related to an item's prestige.
The commission has suggested "an immediate R rating " for any games which feature loot boxes as a solution to this limitation.
The investigation, which started in August , evaluated the use of loot boxes in video games and considered them under issues related to gambling and effects on children.
The Committee recommended that games with loot boxes be labeled to warn of parental guidance and indicate that they contain "in-game gambling content" and suggest that such games be rated to represent the legal gambling age in the country.
A February report from the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs that focused on Internet content that should be blocked behind age verification gates recommended that the Office of the eSafety Commissioner or similar body "report to the Australian government on options for restricting access to loot boxes and other simulated gambling elements in computer and video games to adults aged 18 years or over, including through the use of mandatory age verification".
By August , the Australian Classification Board had updated it regulations that games with any microtransaction, including loot boxes, must be labeled on its cover as containing "in-game purchases" as part of the ratings classification.
The Gambling Commission within the Department of Internal Affairs for New Zealand stated, in response to a citizen's email, that currently in their view "loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling", but are reviewing the situation as it progresses.
In March , the UK's Gambling Commission issued a position paper "Virtual currencies, esports and social casino gaming".
In our view, the ability to convert in-game items into cash, or to trade them for other items of value , means they attain a real world value and become articles of money or money's worth.
Where facilities for gambling are offered using such items, a licence is required in exactly the same manner as would be expected in circumstances where somebody uses or receives casino chips as a method of payment for gambling, which can later be exchanged for cash.
In August , the commission opened an investigation into skin gambling. Miller further stated that even if other countries were to pass laws or regulate loot boxes, the Commission would still need to follow UK's laws.
In October , a month prior to the Battlefront II controversy, MP Daniel Zeichner of Cambridge, on behalf of a constituent, submitted a written parliamentary question "to ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport DCMS , what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games".
The government recognises the risks that come from increasing convergence between gambling and video games.
The Gambling Commission is keeping this matter under review and will continue to monitor developments in the market.
Separately, over 10, UK citizens signed a petition requesting that the UK government "adapt gambling laws to include gambling in video games which targets children", which includes issues over loot boxes.
The response also referenced the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations law which, according to the response "includes a requirement on businesses not to subject anyone to misleading or aggressive marketing practices, or, for example, direct exhortation to buy products, such as games content, including in-game purchases such as loot boxes".
In March , MP Anna Turley of Redcar asked the government to "bring forward legislative proposals to regulate the game mechanics of loot boxes".
In response Minister of State MP Margot James said that "PEGI informs consumers purchasing products from major app stores if they contain further purchases and are considering the possibility of placing these notifications on boxed products", and that "regulators such as PEGI and the Gambling Commission are speaking to industry to ensure that those who purchase and play video games are informed and protected".
The Gambling Commission issued a report in November on the state of gambling and its effect on youth.
While news outlets had stated that the Commission determined that loot boxes can be considered a gateway for youths to undertake gambling in other scenarios beyond video games,   the Commission clarified that they had not made any direct conclusion, and only found that about 3 in 10 children in the UK have opened loot boxes in games.
James said "Loot boxes are a means of people purchasing items, skins, to enhance their gaming experience, not through an expectation of an additional financial reward.
And also, more importantly, they can't be traded offline for money. So I think there are big differences, and I don't think really it is true to say loot boxes are gambling.
The Gambling Commission issued a statement in July that they cannot oversee the sale of loot boxes in most video games as there is no way to monetise the items within the loot box, a core distinction from gambling as written in current legislation.
The Commission did caution that there are third-party sites that enable the means to monetise loot box items, similar to skin gambling , but they are not in a position to monitor those sited, and urged companies like Valve to take better steps to prevent skin gambling monetisation.
In its final report, published 9 September , the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recommended that the UK government take precautionary steps to prevent the sale of games containing loot boxes to minors, and to work with PEGI to make sure that games with loot boxes are labeled as having gambling mechanics.
Further, the report stated that "We consider loot boxes that can be bought with real-world money and do not reveal their contents in advance to be games of chance played for money's worth.
The report also agreed with the conclusions of the Gambling Commission that game publishes and developers must take more steps to limit the grey market of skin gambling.
The National Health Service director of mental health Claire Murdoch stated in January that the Service was incorporating concerns related to loot boxes and the mental health of youth into their Long Term Plan , but cautioned that "no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes.
No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end.
In June , the Department of DCMS began requesting evidence from game companies related to loot boxes as part of a further investigation.
The report identified the ongoing issue of loot boxes, how they may be seen as gambling and their effect on the youth," and concluded that "Ministers should make regulations under section 6 6 of the Gambling Act specifying that loot boxes and any other similar games are games of chance, without waiting for the Government's wider review of the Gambling Act.
In February , the Isle of Man 's Gambling Supervision Commission updated their regulations to explicitly define virtual items as being "money's worth" even when not convertible into cash, explicitly bringing loot boxes under statutory regulation.
In April , the Dutch Gaming Authority issued a legal opinion that games which both sell loot boxes and permit the "transfer" of yielded items are illegal.
In its report "Study into loot boxes: A treasure or a burden? It concluded that while the loot-box systems in the six remaining games did not meet the threshold for legal action, they "nevertheless foster[ed] the development of addiction" and were "at odds" with the authority's objectives.
The authority gave the developers of the four unnamed games eight weeks to correct their loot-box system or face fines and potential bans on sales of the games in the Netherlands.
EA has planned to appeal this decision. The authority's investigation was opened following a parliamentary question tabled by MP Michiel van Nispen in November Announcing the investigation, the regulator warned of the "possible dangers" of "addiction and large financial expenses".
Following its April announcement, the Gaming Authority began to solicit other European Union countries to help harmonise their ruling on loot boxes among the Union.
In April , Psyonix disabled the ability for players in the Netherlands and Belgium to open loot crates with keys in Rocket League due to government regulations.
The Commission stated that for loot boxes in Overwatch , the action of opening a loot box is a game of chance to receive items of some perceived value to players, and there is no means to directly purchase in-game currency to obtain a specific item, while games like FIFA 18 merge reality and fantasy by using real-life athletes to promote the loot-box system.
In response to the announcement, several companies made their games with loot boxes unavailable to customers in Belgium with no financial recourse to customers who bought or paid for merchandise in the games:.
Electronic Arts' games FIFA 18 and FIFA 19 were also called out by the Commission; however, EA did not make any modifications to these games; EA had previously stated in May that it did not believe the implementation of loot boxes in their games constituted gambling.
Durain's letter stated his concerns that "some observers point to a convergence of the video game world and practices specific to gambling" in his request.
He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it. EDM-themed Rocket League season 2 blasts off next week.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's agent hangs up in spicy radio interview after saying FIFA 21 image rights row is "all about money". Football agents "tried to bribe" Football Manager into giving better ratings.
Feature FIFA's greatest obstacles? FIFA 21 potential wonderkids: the best career mode youngsters and hidden gems. The 10 most popular stories of the day, delivered at 5pm UK time.
Never miss a thing. Please enable cookies to view. Manage cookie settings. Zlatan Ibrahimovic's agent hangs up in spicy radio interview after saying FIFA 21 image rights row is "all about money" Quick sub.
But enforcing a ban on loot boxes for unders might prove difficult for the government, given consoles and online accounts can be easily shared by many people.
Listen to Newsbeat live at and weekdays - or listen back here. EA games: Loot boxes aren't gambling, they're just like a Kinder Egg. Video game loot boxes declared illegal under Belgium gambling laws.
If that does come into force in the UK, what would it actually mean for everyday gamers? Some loot boxes can also be won as rewards in a game, rather than being bought with real money.
Though these are still frowned upon by the Gaming Commission in Belgium they are allowed. EA's Kerry Hopkins argued loot boxes are "quite enjoyable to people.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Wesley is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news.
He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it. Insomniac's latest Spider-Man: Miles Morales update adds ray tracing at 60fps.
Monster Hunter movie's controversial dialogue pulled from all versions globally. Sea of Thieves' Festival of Giving closes out the year with seasonal challenges and rewards.
Minecraft for Windows 10's official ray tracing update has left beta and is out now. Digital Foundry Mafia: Definitive Edition - impressive tech that sets the stage for next-gen.
Recommended Carrion review - an unforgettable monster chews its way out of a solid Metroidvania.
Recommended Raji: An Ancient Epic review - a gorgeous adventure through architecture and myth. Ghost of Tsushima - Mythic Tales locations: Where to find all musicians and get Mythic armour rewards.
The 10 most popular stories of the day, delivered at 5pm UK time.