Loot Boxes illegal in Belgium. Publishers could face a fine or prison sentence.

EuroGamer.net has the story that broke earlier this week:

The Belgian Gaming Commission looked at Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and found only Star Wars was not in violation of the country’s gambling legislation – and that’s only because EA stripped out the game’s loot boxes after its launch debacle.

It determined FIFA 18, Overwatch and CS:GO’s loot boxes are a game of chance and so are subject to Belgian gambling law. Battlefront 2, at the time the investigation was conducted, did not have loot boxes, so escapes unscathed.

A statement from Minister of Justice Koen Geens said FIFA 18, Overwatch and CS:GO were therefore illegal and demanded their loot boxes removed. If they’re not, the publishers “risk a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros”. When minors are involved, those punishments can be doubled, Geens added.

The article goes on to provide a statement from EA, a devilish corporation, that only produces DLC and devises ways to profit from it.

There’s no denying that many gamers are extraordinarily frustrated by the movments of loot boxes, DLC and other profit-guranteers from these companies.

I personally find the gambling argument to be thinly veiled though.

Gambling, like alcohol or some drugs, should be legal and left up to the mature adult to regulate upon himself. However, it’s mostly illegal in America.

My statement would be this:

In America the ESRB scans titles for inappropriate or questionable content. They help notify parents of this content, even if they do little to educate them about its effects on children.

It is then up to the parent to decide if their child is mature enough to handle said content. ESRB often provides “gambling” or “simulated gambling” as a category in their ratings.

Loot boxes, where you pay for one and then it roulettes out a random item – may be common, may be rare – should be something a parent is notified of.

Also, a parent is responsible for limiting access to their payment information.

Gambling can be addicting. There have been several psychological studies about it. If anything, it is possible someone underage and immature may be exposed to this addiction.

This system I’m proposing would make games like “FIFA” border on a Mature rating, which would be fought by the developers.

Loot boxes are naturally manipulative. In America companies manipulating us for financial gain has become so engraved into our culture that we don’t think enough about the psychological effects it may have on, not just children, but adults as well.

I’m happy to see Belgium fight this, but they have gone a little intense by suggesting jail time for publishers.

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