Activision Blizzard has confirmed Diablo Immortal won’t be launching in Belgium and the Netherlands alongside other countries on June 2nd, and has blamed the territories’ “current operating environments” for preventing the release of its new free-to-play title, Eurogamer reports. The two countries are notable for recent rulings taken against loot boxes in games, with authorities in each country arguing that they constitute a form of gambling. The cancellation was first reported by Dutch news site Tweakers.
“Diablo Immortal will not be available in Belgium or the Netherlands, and will not appear on Battle.net or the Belgian and Netherlands App or Google Play Stores,” a spokesperson for the game’s publisher told Eurogamer. “This is related to the current operating environment for games in those countries. Accordingly, pre-registrations for the game are not accessible in those markets.”
Regulators in both countries have raised objections to loot boxes
The statement doesn’t specifically confirm that Belgium and the Netherlands rules around loot boxes are to blame. But given recent high profile rulings in both countries it would be a big coincidence if it wasn’t.
In 2018, the Belgium Gaming Commission declared that video game loot boxes are “in violation of gambling legislation,” and ordered games sold in the country remove the feature. EA, which runs one of the most successful examples of loot boxes with its FIFA franchise, announced it would stop selling the in-game currency necessary to buy them in Belgium the following year. Similar mechanics were also disabled in Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Polygon reports.
The situation in the Netherlands is more complicated. In a 2020 ruling, the country’s Gaming Authority ordered EA to disable FIFA’s loot boxes or risk being fined hundreds of thousands of euros a week. But earlier this year this decision was overturned when a Dutch court ruled the game’s card packs do not constitute a form of gambling, and rescinded an earlier fine.
Although Activision Blizzard’s official statement doesn’t mention loot boxes, an unverified customer support email shared on Reddit was more explicit. “Players in the Netherlands and Belgium will not be able to install Diablo: Immortal due to the countries’ gambling restrictions,” the email reads. “The lootboxes in the game are against the law in your country.”
A representative from Activision Blizzard did not respond to The Verge’s request for comment. Diablo Immortal is the latest entry in the company’s long-running Diablo franchise, and the first to come to mobile in addition to PC.