Diablo Immortal loot boxes are causing trouble with fans and market regulators alike. Blizzard’s mobile spin on the action-RPG game, which is now also coming to PC, is causing upset with its microtransactions and loot box model. The fantasy game will also not be released in Belgium or the Netherlands, two countries which have taken a firm stance against the sale of loot boxes.
In an interview with Dutch website Tweakers, an Activision Blizzard Benelux representative confirmed that Diablo Immortal will not be available in either country, citing ‘the current operating conditions for games in those countries.’ Belgium banned the sale of loot boxes in games in 2018 following uproar around their presence in Star Wars Battlefront II, while the Netherlands enforced a ruling against EA in 2020 imposing a €500,000 fine every week until loot boxes were removed from FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode.
Diablo Immortal’s loot boxes aren’t proving any more popular with players, either. Fans on the Diablo subreddit have been expressing their displeasure with the decision to implement microtransactions and loot boxes that have a gameplay impact. The most upvoted comment at the time of writing reads, “I had no problem when they had microtransactions for cosmetic items. Now that there are microtransactions for game progression, I hope the game fails.”
As well as loot boxes, players can buy a premium currency called ‘eternal orbs’ which can then be used to purchase in-game items. These include crests, which boost the rewards from running elder rifts, and reforge stones that reroll the bonuses on equipment. Given that these are purchases which can have a tangible impact on gameplay, it’s unsurprising to see a strong reaction from the community.
In July 2021, the state of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging years of workplace discrimination and harassment. The story has since embroiled CEO Bobby Kotick and prompted the US federal government to open an investigation. It continues to unfold and to be of immense importance to the game industry. You can catch up on all the developments so far in this regularly updated explainer article.
A university study last year found that loot boxes are “psychologically akin to gambling,” suggesting that concern over such systems is well-founded. Aside from this controversy, Blizzard has been showing off Diablo Immortal dungeons in the run-up to the PC beta release and said that they’re evaluating new classes for the action-RPG when it releases.