Belgium & The Netherlands Classify Loot Boxes As Illegal Gambling

Overwatch Loot Box

Here's news that might cause video gamers to celebrate (or revolt): Belgium and the Netherlands recently determined that in-game loot boxes are actually gambling, and therefore, illegal in their countries.

In video games, a loot box is a mystery box of virtual goodies that developers generally charge players money for. Most loot boxes contain a variety of items: special weapons and armor not available anywhere else, wearables for game characters, extra credits or money to spend at in-game vendors or special customization options for characters. They are most often used in games that are "free" to play, as a way to monetize those particular games. Loot boxes have been around for almost as long as there have been multiplayer and free to play games, but became particularly popular with their launch within Overwatch. Since then, loot boxes have garnered their share of critics, with gamers feeling as if developers use them to take advantage of them.

Related: U.S. Lawmaker Already Has a Plan For Games With Loot Boxes

New criticism caused the countries of Belgium and the Netherlands to look more closely at loot boxes within video games. Since players do not know what they will get when they purchase a loot box, those countries have determined that loot boxes are a form of illegal gambling (per Eurogamer). The countries looked specifically at Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in their assessment and concluded that only Battlefront 2 did not violate any such illegal gambling laws in their countries (at the time, there were no loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2 because of how EA messed up that game's launch).

Considering that players could spend up to $50 billion on loot boxes over the next four years, this decision could have a powerful effect on developers' bottom lines, especially considering that such a determination could eventually occur in other countries. There are already worldwide discussions about how loot boxes are normalizing gambling for those who play these video games. There is already a lot of criticism against developers offering microtransactions, with gamers starting to feel like it has become too much the norm. But then there are those players still spending a lot of money on loot boxes, too, and developers count on them.

If loot boxes go away, though, it's likely that developers will find another way to cash in on the popularity of players who want to purchase extra gear, customizables and game options.

More: PUBG is Way Too Focused on Loot Boxes

Source: Eurogamer

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