Local Gambling Laws Force NBA 2K18 Changes In Belgium, Netherlands

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.


Comments

    The thing I dont understand is why even the Australian government would defend lootboxes. They should hit it hard. Most microtransactions are not taxed as revenue in Australia, and many of them also gsin the advantage that most online stores you can buy their products from also only paycents to the dollar andctry to avoid GST as well.

    IT BEGINS. See, the most important thing about change through regulation is that not every country has to implement restrictions. Doing things in two different ways is costly and inefficient and makes systems more vulnerable to defects and complicates future changes. Consistency, standardization are desirable options, so if enough countries start requiring difficult-to-implement changes or ruling out lockboxes, the odds of abandoning the practice altogether improve.

      (That said, I shudder to think of what fresh anti-consumer horrors they'll cook up to replace loot boxes. It feels like every time we come up with a defence against exploitative bullshit, they think of something worse. The corporate equivalent of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.)

        The very fact two countries have banned them & others are looking into it would - you’d have thought - persuaded them to go back to the drawing board and remove the contentious/controversial design aspect (in this case loot boxes) already... Not sure whether to applaud or eye roll that they’re sticking to their guns and still trying to get them in - I guess two countries out of the rest isn’t a huge deal - but as more hopefully follow suit, as you suggest let’s hope it’s enough to sod them off completely and get rid of the ‘grind filled’ rubbish that’s been plaguing far too many AAA releases of late.

        Feel sorry dor basketball fans given how badly the 2K series has been increasingly hit by MT’s over the last few years - be interesting (& possibly nauseating) to see if it’s better/worse than last year. They’re out EA-ing EA which certainly takes some doing...

          They're a business, their goal is to make as much money as possible, which is one of the reasons Pay to Win became such a thing in recent years. From their perspective, nothings really changed yet.

          Lootboxes, as an extension of P2W, are still fine in most markets, so as a game is developed its logical (to them) to put them in, then block them in some way for the markets that are taking a stand, like here. The inclusion is still opt out rather than opt in, and it needs it to get past that balance before we see real change.

          It will need a LOT more countries to follow suit before that happens. It can happen fast, the EU alone might be able to do a blanket block, but that's still just a single market albeit a big chunk. Point being, someone like EA can absorb 30% of countries blocking them, because theres essentially free money from the other 70%. That's the business mentality behind this.

          As much as gamers want them gone, I think we'll be seeing lootboxes as a thing for another few years yet. Unfortunately its still mostly outrage at the moment, with no real legal teeth attached.

          What would change their minds fast would be if the US did a blanket ban, but given how their laws work it'll come down to each state, which means its still a battle of attrition.

            Don't count out the impact of small markets. In an industry that over-analyzes a 1-3% dip, the prospect of losing the entire Euro-block is unthinkable.

            Don't forget: The US STILL doesn't give a shit if Steam offers refunds. We're the only ones who care about that, but crucially, they can't ignore us because--as the ACCC court case revealed--we make up a disproportionately high percentage of Valve's income.

              Fair point. Just saying that for now, its better (for them) to still build lootboxes into the games and opt out, rather than get rid of them. I don't think that changes for a few years yet, if at all.

              Lootboxes by themselves aren't bad. Its the pushing of them into gambling territory (and Pay to Win) that's the problem, and that's pretty easy to wind back or do in a way that's OK - nobody complained about Destiny 2's approach for example.

                Well. A lot of people complained about Destiny 2's, but it was mostly because it was being used as the only new content.

                People do still hold up Overwatch as the paragon of lootboxing virtue because 'they're only cosmetics', which still shits me to no end. 1) Content is content, whether it's cosmetic or not, and some types of players are seeking new guns while others are seeking new threads. It's not 'lesser' content. 2) It's still random. It's still 'lucky dip' gambling. It's still exploitative of people with poor impulse control or addictive personalities, which especially includes children.

                So long as people keep tonguing Overwatch's ass, we won't see the changes to lootboxes that we deserve if not need.

    damn i was hoping that the p[icture meant that they were easing up on raising your character's myplayer stats, because i swear 2K18 in particular makes your character so garbage at the start just to pressure you into buying money instead of actually playing the game.

    See they could have been a bit naughty and nickle and dimed us subtly. But they had to become blatant and greedy, now they are getting regulated. It's their own fault. They could have had their cake and eaten it too but the greed was too much.

    "If you agree, we recommend that you contact your local government representative to communicate your opinion."

    Fuck... Off... 2K...

    No one agrees with this bullshit except other shitty publishers.

      Yeah. Happy to contact regulatory bodies in support of further loot-box regulation, though.

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