Belgian website VTM is reporting that the country’s Gaming Commission is currently taking a look at loot boxes in video games, with particular focus on EA’s inclusion of them in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and Blizzard’s use in Overwatch.
Peter Naessens, General Director of the commission, says that the practice of buying the add-on boxes – where you don’t know what you’re paying for until you open it – may constitute gambling.
TIt’s a particular concern for the Commission when the game is available for and marketed towards children, such as Overwatch and Battlefront 2 are (in Europe both titles have a PEGI rating of 12).
Naessens says loot box systems can be a particular danger to minors because of the societal pressure to spend more money to boost their strength. VTM reports that if loot boxes were indeed found to be a form of gambling then the Gaming Commission would need to provide a permit (it’s illegal to operate a gambling business in Belgium without one).
An investigation could also lead to a fine of “up to hundreds of thousands of Euros” and the game being taken off shelves in Belgium. It would also presumably set a precedent that would affect any other publisher operating similar business practices.