Belgium and the Netherlands have been the most aggressive when it comes to legislating against the various forms of loot boxes, and 2K has been forced to make changes to NBA 2K18‘s MyTeam mode to comply.
In two posts on the NBA 2K website, the publisher announced that they would be disabling access to NBA 2K18’s Auction house for gamers in the Netherlands to comply with the country’s Betting and Gaming Act – or at least the interpretation applied by the country’s regulators.
“The Kansspelautoriteit have stated that games that include ‘loot box’ mechanics style violate gambling laws in the Netherlands if the in-game items they contain are transferable,” a 2K statement, titled “STATEMENT NETHERLANDS”, says.
“Specifically, we will be turning off access to the Auction House. MyTeam packs can still be purchased in the normal manner. We will be continuing conversations with the Kansspelautoriteit in order to explain our view on how NBA 2K and the Auction House already comply with local laws. If you agree, we recommend that you contact your local government representative to communicate your opinion.”
Similarly, NBA 2K18‘s MyTeam mode is getting changes to comply with the wishes of Belgian authorities. In another statement for Belgian consumption, the publisher says that the ability to purchase MyTeam packs with premium (non-earned) currency – real money, basically – would be disabled.
“VC.Gamers are still able to acquire packs with MyTeam points. We will be continuing conversations with the BGC in order to explain our view on how NBA 2K and MyTeam pack purchases already comply with local laws,” 2K said.
It’s worth noting that the Auction House will still be live for NBA 2K users in other regions, Australia included. But the bigger thing to note here is how 2K have responded to the situation, and how that will be received by regulators that are evaluating how to handle loot boxes, and microtransactions in video games generally.
In Australia, for instance, the Belgian regulators’ position on loot boxes is referenced in many departmental and ministerial submissions to our own inquiry, which is due to report back next month. And if legislators know that the most contentious elements of a game can be disabled without withdrawing access to the rest of the game, then they might feel more emboldened to recommend stronger regulatory action.