The Belgian Gaming Commission has found that three games are in violation of the country’s gambling laws. If the games are adjusted, the companies involved face fines of up to 1.6 million euros ($1.9 million).
A new site aims to rate games based on their microtransactions.
According to Belgian newspaper De Standaard, Overwatch, FIFA 18, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are all in breach of Belgian law. A report published by the commission describe the situation in these games as “disturbing,” and says that these games are “particularly problematic for minors and gambling addicts.”
To break the gambling laws in Belgium, games tested had to fulfil four conditions; they had to actually be a game; the player had to stake money (or something else of value, i.e. virtual currency) on the outcome of the lootbox; the outcome of the lootbox resulted in a profit or loss for the player; and chance has to play a part in the outcome. Among the four games tested, only Star Wars Battlefront II was found not to break the law, as it had removed its microtransactions after launch due to a significant backlash from fans.
The Gaming Commission also acknowledged that it had only investigated four games (Overwatch, FIFA, CSGO, and Battlefront II) and that the issue was likely to be more widespread. The companies behind the games found to be breaking the law will first be asked to consult with the Commission, but if the games are not adjusted, companies could face fines of up to 800,000 euros and a prison sentence of up to five years. That punishment could double if minors are found to have been put at risk by the practices.
The Netherlands' Gaming Authority also found four (as-yet unnamed) games to be in violation of their laws, and want the EU as a whole to work together on lootbox legislation. Several European countries, including the UK alongside those mentioned earlier in this article, have been investigating lootboxes for several months now.