Earlier this year in April, Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens requested the Gaming Commission to review selected games, Overwatch included, over their gambling policies. “Paying loot boxes are not an innocent part of video games that present themselves as games of skill.” said Director of Gaming Commission, Peter Naessens. “Now that it is clear that children and vulnerable people in particular are exposed to them unprotected, game manufacturers but also parties such as FIFA, for example, are called upon to call a halt to this practice.”
A post on the Blizzard forums today announced that lootboxes and lootchests in Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm are no longer available to purchase in Belgium. “While we at Blizzard were surprised by this conclusion and do not share the same opinion, we have decided to comply with their interpretation of Belgian law.“ states Community Manager Vaneras. “As a result, we have no choice but to implement measures that will prevent Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm players located in Belgium from purchasing in-game loot boxes and loot chests with real money and gems.”
Although the option to pay for lootboxes is no longer available, players can still earn them using regular means. Playing games normally will still reward players with lootboxes and they will still have access to all in-game content.
Over four months since the official warning, Blizzard is finally heeding the prison sentence and fines that may be issued. The changes in discussion will come into effect ‘shortly’ and Blizzard will “remain open to further discussions with the Belgian Gaming Commission and Ministry of Justice” regarding this measure.
Additionally, the aforementioned report also mentioned FIFA as part of selected games. Although 2K Games disabled paid lootboxes in Belgium for NBA games last month, Electronic Arts has not yet followed through. Regardless, the war on lootboxes rages on.