Belgian Gaming Commission Declares FIFA 18, Overwatch and CSGO Loot Boxes Illegal

Written by Jon Sutton on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 9:56 AM
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The Belgian Gaming Commission has followed in the footsteps of the Dutch authorities and declared that some loot boxes are in violation of gambling laws. The Gaming Commission analyses the loot boxes found in Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, arriving at the conclusion that players are being misled and these loot crates present a danger to mental health.

Three parameters are used to define whether an activity is classed as gambling in Belgium. There must be a game element; a bet that leads to profit or loss, and there must be a factor of chance. Of the games they examined, three out of four were found to be in conflict with Belgian gambling legislation. The only one that wasn’t, ironically enough, was the much-maligned Star Wars Battlefront 2.

"Paying lootboxes are not an innocent part of video games that present themselves as games of dexterity, and players are tempted and misled, and none of the protective measures for gambling is applied," said Peter Naessens, the director of the Gaming Commission.

Justice Minister Koen Geens takes a similar tack, saying "Mixing games and gambling [gambling], especially at a young age, is dangerous for mental health. We have already taken numerous measures to protect minors and adults against the influence of, for example, gambling advertising, and we must therefore ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they seek pleasure in a video game.”

In what has to be seen as a victory for consumers, Geens says the investigation began when the controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront 2 blew up. It’s helped shine a spotlight on a prominent gaming issue, and the impression is that further territories, in the EU at least, are going to follow suit in a swift manner.

The Belgian Gambling Commission has declared that loot boxes must be removed from the offending titles or the operators (publishers) may face a prison sentence of up to five years or a fine of up to €800,000. Should a game be targeted at minors, these punishments can be doubled.

A representative from EA has already issued a statement to GamesIndustry, unsurprisingly claiming that FIFA 18’s player packs are totally ethical, fun, and fair. "We strongly believe that our games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world, and take these responsibilities very seriously," says EA. "We care deeply that our players are having a fun and fair experience in all of our games, and take great care to ensure each game is marketed responsibly, including in compliance with regional ratings standards."   

With loot crates now stepping into confirmed illegal territory, it becomes interesting to see which companies get pulled up on it. Evidently, they’re perfectly okay with using shady tactics that border on illegal in an effort to extract as much money from their customer base as possible, at least until they’re caught red-handed. At this time, it’s certainly worth paying attention to the publishers that haven’t preyed on their customer base in this manner.

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18:32 Apr-26-2018

"We strongly believe that our games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world" LOL! How about implementing lootboxes in the games and rated the game as T? Didn't you know that it's already violation of the law?

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18:34 Apr-26-2018

Seriously EA. This is what happens to companies like you who only wants money. And not the actual game! How many games and studios have you destroyed? YOU SHOULD'VE BEEN SUED!

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18:36 Apr-26-2018

In the future. I just hope that I wanna see companies like activision, EA, blizzard, microsoft, bungie, 343 industries, valve and even konami behind bars because of their stupid practices!

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13:03 Apr-27-2018

Yeah lootboxes are bad but do you know how mich blizzard gets from his account services from wow? 30€ server transfer 25 race change etc now you can buy gold ingame(you used to buy it from hackers now from other players) and just look at all the mounts and pets.

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07:05 Apr-28-2018

I don't care about WOW. How about the skins and character personalization on overwatch? Didn't that cost real world money? Instead of being able to unlock it via gameplay. You need to use real money. And remember diablo 3 auction house?

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15:59 Apr-26-2018

I wonder what Valve will do about it, they need to come up with a new way to fund the ongoing developement of cs somehow..

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16:15 Apr-26-2018

"ongoing development" nice joke mate, the skins are almost all made by the community and appart from the ocasional map rework, i don't see what "development" they need so much money for.

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17:54 Apr-26-2018

New maps, map changes, bug fixes, balancing and so on?


If you never played it and don't know anything about it avoid talking like you got a clue.


We just got new inferno, dust 2 and canals within like 1 year, just like tons of changes to existing maps, and they implemented some self developed AI to make overwatch as accurate as possible.

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18:38 Apr-26-2018

What's the reason for remaking the maps of CS GO? This kind of stupid practices never exist on previous CS series!

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22:12 Apr-26-2018

I did play CS since release and stopped playing since they introduced glove skins, that was the last straw for me. And keep telling that to yourself, valve doesn't even need to make games to get revenue lol.

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04:47 Apr-27-2018

Valve does NOT even need games to make revenue... Steam takes a 30% cut from each game sold on it and if Valve is publishing or promoting the game in any way they take an additional 20%...

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09:33 Apr-27-2018

If Valve is publishing they take a 100% cut surely? And foxtrot, CS maps have been getting redesigned ever since the beginning, it's nothing new and there's really anything wrong with attempting to improve their designs.

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09:46 Apr-27-2018

No valve do NOT take 100% cut when they are publishing a game that is NOT made/developed by them or a studio they own, which IDK when the last time that happened was.

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09:54 Apr-27-2018

I'm just not really aware of them ever doing that aside from Garry's Mod yonks ago. They tend to just buy up the studios of the games they're publishing, and they actually have very little created in-house. Left 4 Dead, CS, Portal,DOTA, Day of Defeat, and now In the Valley of the Gods, all games created externally and bought up by Valve. They're basically just the Half-Life people.

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12:26 Apr-27-2018

Jon The only CS that's kept receiving new map updates is the CS GO. I've played 1.3, 1.6, CZ, and source. I've never encountered any of those updates on the previous 4. And just so you know. Those 4 games are original CS not pirated!

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12:53 Apr-27-2018

Yeah the point being that the maps have changed slightly between versions. CSGO is the same, it's just now Valve isn't constantly making players get a new game, CSGO support has had a very long tail and there's no end in sight.


I don't think changing maps is necessarily a good or bad thing, but as the game changes over the years I think it's important that Valve makes the tweaks necessary that it thinks will improve the maps. Most of the maps in the game aren't perfect after all, and there's nothing wrong with making the right changes. But, I stopped playing CS a long, long time ago so I may be out of touch.

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14:27 Apr-27-2018

The problem with CS:GO maps(the ones that are actually played) is that they are way too simple and most of them are super linear with the bomb sites being the only yards(open areas) with too little positions and just a ton of repetition, that's why even pro players are complaining, for example, that's why they removed Dust2 from the competitive map pool.


And valve does NOT introduce any long-term, competitive maps, the last time they did it was in 2014 and they added Cache and Overpass, 2 maps for a 6 year game.


The map overhauls are 95% that, just retextures with minimal tweaks and some removal of stupid things on the maps.

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16:17 Apr-27-2018

@Psychoman your comment is just so wrong in so many ways.
first of all, if anything cs was always praised because of the great,and often copied, maps. Like every free to play shooter has its own D2, inferno or cache clone.
D2 was removed only because it was being reworked, it's already back in the pool and from what I know no pro ever .complained about the maps being bad.

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18:11 Apr-27-2018

NOT bad, boring... big difference... they did an interview asking them which map they'd like to see gone and that's what many said with the same reasoning, D2 being boring and always playing out the same.


The best map anyone can create is a square with a square in the middle, perfect balance, no complaints, but it is NOT fun...


And CS's maps are great indeed(the ones that are being played), just boring and simple as hell... they are too repetitive, with too little positions, too much pre-aiming due to their simplicity and linearity.

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20:20 Apr-27-2018

Psychoman while I know it's not meant to be taken seriously, what you say about a square with a square in the middle and it being perfectly balanced is not true and showing that you don't seem to have played the game.


In traditional Team Deathmatch modes like many games have that might be true, but as there's CT's and T's (guarding and attacking) that wouldn't be balanced at all.

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20:52 Apr-27-2018

yes it would, CTs spawn on top of the bomb site, thus they are there before the Ts, they are there instantly actually and the Ts have to travel the side of the Square and then some to get there, done... how that is NOT balanced IDK, the guarding side should NOT have an advantage over attackers and vice versa, unless the attackers have something to compensate for the positional advantage, which in CS they do NOT and the one shot headshot BTK of the AK does NOT count, at long distance in CS:GO the peaker is at a disatvantage, while at short distance the peaker has an advantage, so for example that's why people **** on D2's B site...

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20:54 Apr-27-2018

And the funny thing is, I'm currently making a map for CS_GO:
https://imgur.com/a/1Smikkf
Why CS:GO? Because there is no other shooter on PC that is actively played and has a map editor... so much for PC mustard race... And I like level designing worlds/maps/arenas...

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12:45 Apr-26-2018

Go Belgium! Hopefully this cancer will be wiped out from the gaming industry

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11:04 Apr-26-2018

And now I want this to happen in every other country on this planet and future space colonies, galaxy, universe and existence.

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10:12 Apr-26-2018

Can't say for the the games, but I'm not sure how anyone is misled with OW lootboxes. Purely cosmetic items, all of which can be unlocked with in game currency.

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10:18 Apr-26-2018

It's nothing to do with their 'fairness' in terms of game balance. Cosmetic items are coveted, that's why they're in loot boxes - because people want them. Once you then inject a random chance of getting the item you actually want, that's a system that's nothing more than a slot machine with crappier prizes. To get around it, Blizzard should have a system where users can buy the specific cosmetic item they want.

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10:32 Apr-26-2018

You earn credits by getting duplicates (ie by playing), you can unlock items with those.

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10:51 Apr-26-2018

Yeah I get that, but your credits you earn only a fraction of the cost the item is actually worth. I'm not saying Siege is perfect here, but with their system you have loot boxes but you can also outright buy the majority of the skins you want with currency that's earnable in-game. I think it would be nice if Overwatch had a catalogue and you could save up for the thing you want. Keep the loot boxes I guess, but at least have an alternative.

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12:03 Apr-26-2018

You can earn money in OW but its just not enough to pay for new skins,for example one skin cost 3000 coins but you can earn that much in a month or 2 of___

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12:07 Apr-26-2018

_grinding,and in every new event there's about 10 new skins,so by normal playing there's no way you can buy them all,so the only way is to use wallet.And that's

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12:08 Apr-26-2018

_where gambling starts.At that point game motivates you to throw money at it,so it can be considered gambling imo.

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18:40 Apr-26-2018

Last year. There were a lot of news of upcoming 2018 games that has microtransactions in it. Now that the government have step into the fight against microtransaction and lootboxes. ALL those upcoming games were delayed by the developers!

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18:42 Apr-26-2018

Many of those developers think that they can squeeze a lot of money from the people who buys their products. All that practices are now being monitored by the government. One slip from the developers and all of them would be behind bars!

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10:01 Apr-26-2018

I'd have been fine with an 18+ rating for anything containing loot boxes, but this is ok as well.
Hope other countries follow suite!

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10:12 Apr-26-2018

the problem with just putting a 18+ tag on a game, is that most kids don't follow it. and there is no checking up on it ( atleast not when buying online ) . so imo, they should just be removed all together.


or they should start asking for IDs when buying adult rated games.

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10:15 Apr-26-2018

I think if they're classified as gambling they should be subject to the same rules. For example, ID at purchase and also an age check on the card used to make the transactions in-game. Using Betfair as an example, they took my card and did a check on my bank account to determine my age was correct before I was allowed to put money into the account.

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10:32 Apr-26-2018

It's more meant to deter publishers from putting loot boxes into their game. Having their game be 18+ actually means a lot of lost sales (at least in Germany publishers are trying pretty hard to get their age rating as low as possible for the games to sell better).
I don't think loot boxes are inherently bad, Overwatch for example feels decently rewarding even without putting any money into it. I just don't think it should be that easy for kids to get into contact with loot boxes at an early age, that's all.

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