Loot boxes are one of the most controversial topics of 2017, thanks in large part to Star Wars Battlefront II, and one government is very close to cracking down on them.
Belgium’s Gaming Commission has officially kicked off its investigation into whether loot boxes in games can be considered as a form of gambling with the intent to regulate them.
While the commission has yet to finalize its decision, a recent report published by the commission states its intent for “closer cooperation between governments, software developers, and rating agencies” to create rules that “protect players from the harmful effects of gambling without compromising” game publishers’ ability to make a profit.
However, Belgian justice minister Koen Geens has already stated his intention to get loot boxes banned.
“Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child,” Geens said. To be clear, Geens is specifically referencing loot boxes here, not microtransactions, which guarantees players they receive the item the intentionally purchase.
The Gaming Commission is defining gambling, within the context of their investigation, as a mixture of “money and addiction,” and that the major concern surrounding loot boxes is with publishers’ “aggressive” tactics for pushing loot box purchases onto minors.
Of course, as a member of the European Union, no matter what the Gaming Commission decides, if Belgium does decide that loot boxes deserve to be banned, it will still have to “go to Europe” for further consideration, according to Geens.
Meanwhile, Hawaiian state representatives Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan held a press conference to call out Battlefront II specifically as utilizing “predatory practices” to “trap” children and basically trick them into gambling by purchasing loot boxes. Quinlan compared the use of the Star Wars IP to Joe Camel, claiming that it lured kids into illegal, harmful practices (via Polygon).
Recently, the U.K. government was forced to investigate loot boxes as potential gambling thanks to a public petition. However, these Belgian and Hawaiian lawmakers seems to be taking the most aggressive stance against loot boxes we’ve seen so far.
Source: PC Gamer