Star Wars: Battlefront II’s controversial loot box system may be gone (for now, anyway), but it’s certainly left a sore spot with a number of gamers. Not only that, but it’s prompted Belgium’s Gaming Commission to investigate whether they qualify as some form of gambling. It turns out that it’s come back with results – and they’re not good.
VTM News has reported that the ruling behind the investigation points to Belgium believing that they are gambling of some kind. Though the Google Translation is a bit rough, the commission notes that “the mixing of money and addiction is gambling,” and loot boxes fall right into that category.
Belgium’s Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, also sounded off, saying, “Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.”
But this isn’t just a scolding – Geens actually wants something done about it, and is actually looking to get in-game purchases banned outright if they aren’t given enough clarification. Though he noted that such a process could take some time to get done, “because we have to go to Europe, we will certainly try to ban it.”
While business is likely to stay as usual in the U.S. (Electronic Arts is already trying to figure out a way to reactivate the “loot box” system in Battlefront II -- it hasn't officially commented yet), this could be a huge precendent with overseas game sales, especially if Europe has any word on it. Thus far, it hasn’t said anything, but if Belgium has enough evidence to support its argument, this could get really interesting.
So what would happen if such a ban passes? Would publishers be forced to increase the price of their games? Would they rely more on a DLC system to justify additional development costs? And would freebies still be attainable over the main course of the game without paying anything extra? We don’t have the answers yet, but we’ll be keeping an eye on what Belgium does over the next few months.