Belgian website VTM is reporting that the country’s Gaming Commission is currently taking a look at loot boxes in video games, with particular focus on EA’s inclusion of them in Star Wars: Battlefront II and Blizzard’s use in Overwatch.
Peter Naessens, General Director of the commission, says that the practice of buying the add-on boxes—where you don’t know what you’re paying for until you open it—may constitute gambling.
It’s a particular concern for the Commission when the game is available for and marketed towards children, like Overwatch and Battlefront II are (in Europe both titles have a PEGI rating of 12).
Naessens says loot box systems can be a particular danger to minors because of the societal pressure to spend more money to (in Battlefront’s case, at least) boost their strength. VTM reports that if loot boxes were indeed found to be a form of gambling then the Gaming Commission would need to provide a permit (it’s illegal to operate a gambling business in Belgium without one).
An investigation could also lead to a fine of “up to hundreds of thousands of Euros” and the game being taken off shelves in Belgium. It would also presumably set a precedent that would affect any other publisher operating similar business practices.