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Loot boxes are gambling and should be banned, says Belgium

Last week, Belgium’s Gaming Commission began an investigation into whether loot boxes in titles such as Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Overwatch can be defined as gambling.

The answer is a resounding yes, with VTN News reporting that ‘the mixing of money and addiction is gambling’ when real-world currency is involved in the equation.

“Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child,” commented Koen Geens, Belgium’s Minister of Justice.

According to the report, Geens hopes to ban in-game purchases such as this outright in Europe, stating “because we have to go to Europe. We will certainly try to ban it.”

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This comes shortly after controversy surrounding Battlefront 2’s progression system, which is primarily driven by in-game loot boxes that can be purchased with real-world money.

While purely cosmetic in nature, games like Overwatch also adopt a similar formula with four random items unlocked with each new box. It appears Belgium believes that the elements of addiction found in these mechanics are particularly dangerous to young people.

Electronic Arts and DICE removed microtransactions from Battlefront 2 prior to its full release, announcing it will add them back in at a later date once improvements have been made.

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Loot boxes in major titles have become a trend of sorts in 2017, also emerging in Middle Earth: Shadow of War and having a noticeable impact on the game’s public reception as a result.

Games Editor Brett Phipps took issue with Star Wars Battlefront 2 in his review, believing the metagame drastically affected his overall experience.

“Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a great game spoiled by a terrible business model. DICE and EA are going to be under a huge amount of pressure not just to tweak, but completely overhaul the metagame or face an even bigger fan backlash than they have already.”

With any luck, we’ll see major changes made to this system in the coming months, much like the alterations EA has suddenly implemented into Need for Speed: Payback.

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What are your thoughts on the recent loot box controversy? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter @trustedreviews.


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