Nintendo has announced it will be pulling Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes from mobile platforms in Belgium following the territory’s recent stance on lootboxes.
This is a pretty huge move from Nintendo regarding its mobile hits in the country, with no gameplay adjustments being made to accomodate the presence of lootboxes. Instead, they’re being removed for download entirely.
“Due to the current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models, we have decided to end the service for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes in Belgium,” the official statement reads.
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Those with Orbs/Leaf Tickets for Pocket Camp and Heroes have until then to redeem them, and Nintendo has said similar titles will not be released in the territory for the foreseeable future.
Both Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes possess blind-box style systems where players have the option of investing real-world currency for a reward. Pulling them is a direct result of Belgium’s law on lootboxes in games.
It’s also worth noting that gameplay adjustments haven’t, or simply can’t be made for both titles to be made suitable for Belgian audiences. The lootbox mechanics are integral to the experiences Nintendo has built.
Considering they are free-to-play titles, it isn’t entirely surprising that Nintendo’s mobile library adopts optional lootbox mechanics, so perhaps they are pulling them merely to avoid future troubles.
From our perspective, the fact that games can be removed from consumption purely because they possess lootboxes is a scary step, and one Nintendo has shown it has no issue taking.
We haven’t seen a similar example with full-price titles, although Blizzard did make adjustments to Overwatch following Belgium’s recent ruling on lootboxes.
Regulation on gambling in games, whether through the medium of lootboxes or otherwise, should be regulated, although it might be a tumultous journey getting there.
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