Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players in Belgium and the Netherlands recently discovered they could not open their previously purchased containers, the game's version of loot boxes. It seems both countries are taking the decision by authorities that loot boxes are illegal gambling very seriously.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS: GO for short, is a multiplayer first-person shooter game that originally released in 2012. The game continues to get updates in content by its developer, Valve, which includes the addition of various loot boxes that allow players to buy special in-game goodies to help them level up and add cosmetic additions to their characters.
The problem with these loot boxes, though, is players never know what they're buying with their real-world cash. Sometimes loot boxes have special and rare items. Other times, it's just stuff players don't really want. It's this that recently prompted several countries to look carefully at the legality of loot boxes. In Belgium and the Netherlands, authorities recently declared some loot boxes are actually forms of illegal gambling. Eurogamer reports CS: GO players in Belgium and the Netherlands recently discovered they could not open any recently purchased loot boxes. Valve, in compliance with those countries' laws, blocked loot boxes in the game. This leaves players who bought loot boxes out of luck and money. But the reality is the law is the law.
Multiplayer games bring in a lot of revenue with loot boxes, in spite of their many critics. Analysts suggest players will spend $50 billion in loot boxes over the next four years. Players seem to find value in them, willing to spend their real money on something that could give them advantages over other players within a multiplayer environment.
In spite of that, loot boxes are starting to see a real pushback. Although many developers continue to defend their offering of loot boxes, others are getting rid of them altogether. With some countries deciding that loot boxes are actually illegal, though, developers will have their hands forced on what they can and can't offer within their titles. There is also now an issue of players in countries where loot boxes are legal having an unfair advantage over players in countries that can't buy them.
It's likely, though, that more countries will end up following suit on loot boxes. Although players continue to stupidly spend money on them, it is in everyone's best interest if they officially go away.