It’s the discussion topic that won’t go away. The UK Government has made it very clear that, while the situation around loot boxes in video games will be closely monitored, it does not amount to gambling. The lack of real-life monetary value to trade for earned items, and the fact that you will receive an item by opening a loot box rather than the chance of losing and getting nothing, is enough for the UK legally at the moment.
However, the Belgian Gambling Commission is taking a slightly different view in its own investigation, which is looking specifically at Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Overwatch. It believes that because you don’t know in advance what you are going to get, this amounts to it being a game of chance. It also says that the games are a possible danger to minors who could be pressured to spend a lot of money on the mechanic.
Because of this, the Belgian Commission believes that it falls under the umbrella of gambling, which would require a licence from the Gambling Commission under Belgian law. "It is thus dependent on coincidence how well you can play the game. And in that case it falls under the gambling," said the director of the commission, Peter Naessens, to Belgian news outlet, VTM. "If there is a game of chance, that can not be done without the permission of the Commission."
If the commission does find that the games are in breach of the law then not only could EA and Activision Blizzard but subject to fines, but could also be forced to remove the games from sale or possibly remove the mechanic from the game. EA responded to the news in a statement to Gamespot, saying:
"Creating a fair and fun game experience is of critical importance to EA. The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling. A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all. Once obtained, players are always guaranteed to receive content that can be used in game."