The Belgium Gaming Commission has declared Overwatch, CS: GO and FIFA 18 to be illegal after conducting some thorough research. The organization concluded that these games contain loot boxes that are in violation of gambling legislation, making the publishers of those games to be punishable under criminal law.
According to the press release, Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens revealed that an investigation was initiated after the loot box issue arose during the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2. Four games were investigated, which includes Overwatch, CS: GO, FIFA 18 and Star Wars Battlefront 2.
Geens said: ‘An interview with the sector is imminent. It is often children who come into contact with such systems and we can not allow that.” The Belgian Gaming Commission considers a game to be subject to gambling legislation when it contains a game element similar to a bet, which can lead to either profit or loss based on pure chance.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 managed to escape the final judgment of the Belgian Gaming Commission because the game did not contain any loot boxes when the investigation was being conducted. EA removed the loot box system from the game shortly after release due to all the backlash regarding the progression system.
Geens said: “Mixing games and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for mental health. We have already taken numerous measures to protect both minors and adults against the influence of, among other things, gambling advertising. That is why we must also ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they are looking for fun in a video game.”
The publishers of those three games will have to remove their loot boxes or risk receiving a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros. If minors are involved, the punishments can possibly be doubled. It remains to be seen if Blizzard, Valve, and EA will take action in the face of these charges.
In other related news, several other countries have already banned loot boxes in recent times, including Germany and the Netherlands. Even politicians in the US have been trying to get legislators to take action against “unethical” loot boxes in games.