As reported by Gamespot, Belgium’s gambling authority, the Belgian Gaming Commission, has launched an investigation into Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and Overwatch to determine if the loot boxes in those games constitute gambling. Belgium claims that because players receive loot from loot boxes on a random basis, it is fair to say that players are essentially gambling with real money in order to obtain an item that they may or may not get. In Belgium, if you have a game of chance, you are required to obtain a permit from the Gaming Commission.
The Belgian Gaming Commission director Peter Naessens has stated that if the courts find that this is a form of gambling, then EA and Blizzard will have to pay a fine up to thousands of Euros.
Naessens goes on to say that, “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.”
That feels like a slap on the wrists to me, but the money isn’t really the thing that is at stake here.
Ultimately, a decision from a supreme court can have a lasting effect on the gaming community. If they say that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then they can actively ban all games with loot box systems from their country. This would be a gut punch to the publishers, as well as the developers, and it would cause them to take a step back and rethink the way that they make games.
Personally, I would love to see the loot box model taken away forever. I feel as though loot boxes are a form of gambling, and it is directed right at children.
Based on an article from extremetech.com, in 2016, two different companies found that 10% of mobile game players were responsible for 59% of a titles total revenue, while a different company found that just .19% of players were accounting for 48% of revenue.
In my opinion, this shows that there are some addictive properties to the loot box system. Companies are hoping to find someone that has the itch for gambling and can’t help but try one more time. They call these people whales because just one of them can feed the whole tribe.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a different opinion then me? If you do, I love a good conversation.