Blizzard (World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Heores of the Storm) and 2K (Borderlands, Mafia, NBA 2K series) has removed the micro-transactions portions from their games: Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and NBA 2K18. This is to comply with Belgium and Netherlands’ gambling laws. The countries considers loot box as gambling. 2K’s and Blizzard’s official statement are below.
TL;DR: In Belgium, players can’t purchase MyTeam packs (read: loot boxes) with real money, though they can still be acquired by earning currency in-game. in Netherlands, players will not be able to access Auction House, a feature that allows you to buy and sell your players. (Eurogamer.net) For Blizzard, players can no longer use real money for loot boxes in Overwatch and HoTS.
If you read the statement, 2K and Blizzard disagrees with the banning and believes they are following the law with their initial practices. They actively asked their players to contact the local government to allow their loot box system.
The loot box system is a disgusting and frustrating way to extract more money from players. While more people are growing aware of the unfair practice, there are still many players purchasing loot boxes. Last year, Blizzard earned over $3 billion USD from loot box sales. Often, gaming companies state that loot boxes are to make back the expenses from development.
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This year, governments and countries around the world have been evaluating loot boxes in video games. Discouraged by Gamers, it has become an infamous growth in revenue for video games. Many mobile games and online video games have added loot boxes as a system. Some governments are considering loot boxes as a form of gambling because users rely on chance to earn good in-game items. Recently, the Belgian Gaming Commision has declared randomized loot boxes as a “game of chance” in 3 games: Overwatch, CS: GO, and FIFA.
The Belgian Gaming Commission stated the “games don’t disclose the odds of receiving specific in-game items.” The three games must remove their loot boxes or be in criminal violation of the country’s gaming legislation. The fine is €800,000 and five years in prison for the operators. Clarification on who would face the consequences in the company remains to be determined. If the loot boxes affect minors, the punishment is doubled.
What happens next?
Minister of Justice Koen Geens wants to work with the gaming companies, developers, operators and the Belgian Gaming Commission to determine who should be punished for loot boxes. Belgium is one of the first countries that took a stance against loot boxes in games during the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 controversy. Hawaii, Washington D.C. and several countries are trying to create laws to limit the purchase of loot boxes in games.
Koen Geens – Minister of Justice