More specifically, they have come to the decision that loot boxes are gambling, with a particular finger pointing to
- FIFA 18
- Rocket League
Further, they need to remove the “almost winning” animations, the ability to chain open loot boxes, and prevent “vulnerable groups” from using them. This is very similar to a casino effect, where a picture is on the wall. That doesn’t always work, curious how it will apply to virtual games – user ID I suppose.
This doesn’t mean that lootboxes are illegal, oh no. It means that selling lootboxes without a gambling license is illegal.
I’d be curious as to the process of getting a license in Belgium. Canada it’s a rather tough slog, since all gambling is owned by the government (or native tribes). The US is more about bribes than it is about getting an actual license – plus a massive aversion to anything considered online gambling.
The worst outcome for gaming companies is always legislative compliance. Governments are notorious for putting everyone through the wringer to get the last cent… and tax evasion is the easiest way to get after a company on international terms.
How game companies comply with this change will be interesting. Either they modify the entire game, modify it for that region, or stop offering the game in that region seem the most likely scenarios. My guess is to stop offering based on IP would be the simplest.
What I’m interested in is how this trickles into other nations. The US was all bluster on this front but no action. If I was a gaming CFO, I’d be worried about this type of change. Loot boxes are programmed to prey on the addictive tendencies of players. There’s a reason they are such a massive cash cow. Unless China or the US decides to take similar strides… I’d be quite curious to see how this plays out in the long run. Maybe it’s just a blip on the radar, which would be quite a shame.
I called this, and hoped that gaming companies would do simple steps to avoid this (percentage chance for items, buyout opportunities, etc.) Not surprised here, and expect more to follow suit.