Belgium Considers Loot Boxes To Be A Form Of Gambling

Oh man oh man, what a week it has been in our beloved industry and I can't say that I'm not writing this with a huge smile on my face, hopefully this means the death of loot boxes.

I think it's fair to sat that EA tried to take the piss out of everyone with Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and its stupid loot boxes and micro transactions that damaged the gameplay by creating unfair advantages for those that are willing to pay to win. Poor EA had to remove all that crap a day before the games release due to massive pressure from gamers, the media and Disney. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 sold roughly 60% less than the original at launch thanks to EA's unstoppable greed.

Now we have even more good news thanks to the Gaming Commission of Belgium. Last week they launched an investigation into loot boxes in gaming to see if they could be considered as a form of gambling. They have now deemed that "the mixing of money with addiction is gambling". Think of it like buying a lottery scratch card. You go to the shop, pick up a scratch card in the hope that you win some cash, car, holiday or whatever. Loot boxes work in a similar way, you pay your cash for random items in a loot box, you might not get what you were hoping for so you spend more cash in the hope that you win better items and so on. It's gambling, well Belgium consider it to be at this point anyway.

The big issue for gaming is that gambling in most European countries requires the person to be over the age of 18 or even 21 in some places. EA are targeting Star Wars, Fifa and many other of their franchises at children or young teens as well as adults. Having these loot boxes in games is introducing kids to gambling in a very sly and underhand way. It's simply not acceptable and if Belgium gets their way, we might see legislation introduced, not only in Belgium but throughout the EU, to prevent this from happening in the future. The mere threat of that will hopefully give publishers pause for thought going forward but in reality, it might take years for new legislation to be introduced, if at all.

My Take

Look, EA are not the only ones at this nonsense, loot boxes and micro transactions are becoming rampant in our industry. GTA 5, Call Of Duty, Destiny, they all have loot boxes or micro transactions to some degree. These are some of the biggest franchises in our industry, these games make billions and billions of dollars They don't need loot boxes to get even more cash out of us, it's just publishers unquenchable greed, plain and simple. 

This garbage began with mobile games, you could spend a tiny bit of cash for extra lives or moves in games like Candy Crush, which is fine because Candy Crush, like lots of mobile games, are completely bloody free to download and play. AAA modern console titles can set you back anywhere up to €75 a pop.

I would love nothing more than for this nonsense to come to an end. DLC can add value to a game in some cases but in other cases, they are designed to take the piss also. I believe COD WW2 for example, has only nine multiplayer maps ….. I wonder why that is, are we getting the rest as paid for DLC perhaps.

Loot boxes add nothing to a game, except maybe as a way to give you a virtual leg up and fill publishers' bank accounts at the same time. We give these leeches enough of our money already, vote with your wallet folks, if a game takes the absolute piss with gameplay unbalancing loot boxes and micro transactions, give it a wide berth. When game sales begin to drop away, only then will these publishers take notice. Enough is enough. 

What do you think folks, should some people just practice more, is that not what it's all about after all. Should we just leave the pay to win mentality where it belongs, on the mobile gaming scene. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.

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