The Belgium Gaming Commission has today stated it is looking at the loot box system in video games to see if it qualifies as gambling. This is connected to the Star Wars Battlefront II loot box issues and its apparent pay-to-win schemes.
Peter Naessens told VTM, a local media outlet, that they are looking into this as gamers are encouraged to use real life money in exchange for in-game items.
This could have a huge impact on the gaming industry as we know it, as developers and publishers will have to really think morally on whether or not loot crates is a valid way to earn money to cover their game developing costs. Also, if it is found to be gambling, even by just Belgium, chances are there will be a lot more games with 18+ ratings which again could be similarly hurt as possible revenue streams post-purchase dry up.
Obtaining a loot crate in Battlefront II is essentially a game of chance; players can use in-game ‘currency’ or real life money to obtain and open a random crate. Once inside the crate you’re rewarded with random drops, which could be in the form of character buffs, such as additional health, or a skin which is a cosmetic item for your character.
However, because you as a player are always getting something for your investment, whether it’s for in-game currency or real life money, it’s very blurry on whether or not this could be considered gambling. There is also no way for players to win real life cash for their investments either, further blurring the lines on sort of advantage a player is purchasing.
This news which originally came from VTM, could make other worldwide gaming commissions or even the ESRB take this issue more seriously than it has been in the past. We all remember the CS:GO gambling websites right? That appears to have died down pretty quickly.
If the Belgium Gaming Commission decides buying loot crates IS gambling, there is a chance EA may have to redevelop their loot box system. And other game developers will also have to be aware of the findings.