The lootbox controversy is a big one and Belgium seems to be taking it very seriously indeed. Due to the new Belgium lootbox ban, Square Enix has been forced to pull 3 games including Mobius Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts Union X and Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia.
These are some pretty major titles from Square Enix on mobile, even though the developer is better known for games like Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy and Hitman. Square Enix has confirmed that the games have been removed due to the “the present uncertain legal status of ‘loot boxes’ under Belgian law”.
Belgium does not want young minds to indulge themselves in games of chance when they are looking to have fun in games. According to studies, such loot box mechanics in games can result in future gambling problems.
Back in April, Belgium cracked down on lootbox mechanics in which people could buy lootboxes using real or virtual money. This is something that we see in popular games such as Overwatch, Fifa 18 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Belgium claims that this is a violation of the gambling legislation. The country’s justice minister, Koen Geens had the following to say in this regard:
Mixing games and gambling, especially at a young age, is dangerous for mental health. That is why we must also ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they are looking for fun in a video game.
This is not the first time that someone has been hit by the Belgium lootbox ban. Guild Wars 2 was forced to remove the option of buying in-game items using actual money. Overwatch also faced similar issues and the version of the game that is playable in Belgium does not have lootboxes.
For better or for worse, countries are now taking an active part in removing microtransactions from games. You might not like this if you are a skin collector or buy in-game items but overall I think that this is a step in the right direction. In all fairness, I don’t think that the same rule should be applied to free-to-play games.