Battlefront II and Overwatch may be banned in Belgium! Here’s Why
According to PC Gamer the Belgian Gaming Commission is contemplating the fate of Overwatch and Battlefront II based on the idea of the lootbox system it employs.
The argument is that lootboxes give you a random reward when you spend real money, which the commission considers to be a form of gambling. This is the reason they are citing to investigate both games and decide whether they can be allowed to be sold or not.
If the commission establishes that the system is in fact gambling, both companies – Blizzard (Owned by Activision) and EA will face massive fines and may even lead to the games being pulled away from retail and digital marketplaces.
While I absolutely despise lootboxes, this made me wonder. Did they deserve it? Did they deserve to be branded as ‘illegal’ or ‘bannable’ for the random element?
Games have always had a random element about them, RNG is one of the first things games teach you when you’re grinding it out for a particular piece of armor or weapon. The randomness is part of games, but they didn’t use to involve real money. In-game cash, yes. But real money to buy in-game cash? Not always the case.
Lately, lootboxes have been the not-so-secret secret ingredient the industry has favoured when it comes to AAA games. A transition from the DLC strategy that was followed till now and bringing a twist to the Microtransaction model as well (which was also not something new.) But with lootboxes, the aspect of chance comes into play.
But unlike gambling, lootboxes guarantee you get something. There is never an ’empty’ lootbox, you may not get what you want but you will always get some item. This might help EA’s and Activision’s case when it comes to proving that it is, in fact, quite opposite to what gambling is. Lootboxes are random but that does not equate to gambling.
The decision that the commission will have implications for multiple industries, websites like Lootcrate give you a random parcel that you pay real money for, wouldn’t that be gambling when looked through the same lens? What about Humble Bundle’s ‘Humble Monthly’ you buy the subscription not knowing the majority of the games, is that gambling too?
The way I see it, while lootboxes have an element of gambling, it is by no means gambling in itself.
The silver lining could be that this may lead to developers turning away from the lootbox system and thinking of some other ways to squeeze more money out of a customer who pays full price for a game that’s (usually) half-baked.
Could you call that a silver lining? I’m not sure, but a day without lootboxes is a very good day in my book.
What do you guys think? Is the commission exaggerating here? Or if they are right to call loot boxes an instrument of gambling? Tell us in the comments!
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#Battlefront II and Overwatch may be banned in Belgium! Do they deserve it?