The Belgian Gaming Commission has ruled after a preliminary investigation that loot boxes in several games — Overwatch, FIFA 18, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive — are considered games of chance that are subject to Belgian gaming law, via Ars Technica.
According to a statement from Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens, the games currently constitute criminal violations of Belgium’s gaming legislation, and developers could be subject to prison sentences of up to five years and fines of up to 800,000 euros if the loot boxes aren’t removed. Per Justice Geens’ statement, the commission used four parameters to determine whether or not loot boxes in a game were considered a game of chance: if there was a game element that allowed bets to be placed, with a possible profit or loss, where chance played a roll in the result.
The games currently constitute criminal violations of Belgium’s gaming legislation
Belgium has been one of the earliest countries to investigate loot boxes, following the release and subsequent outcry of how EA had implemented the random reward system in Star Wars Battlefront II. While the commission did investigate that game alongside the others mentioned above, it found that with EA’s recent changes to how the loot system works, it doesn’t fall under the “games of chance” classification anymore.
Justice Geens also highlighted the fact that these games are played by minors as extra concerning, noting that it could result in the penalties getting doubled. The commission will apparently be reaching out to developers of the games to see “who should take responsibility where.”
The news comes just days after the Netherlands issued a similar ruling, declaring four games as games of chance and giving developers until June 20th to change or remove the loot boxes.