Blizzard will soon disable loot box purchases in Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm for players in Belgium, in compliance with local law. Players in the region will still be able to earn the random drops by playing, and will have access to all in-game content, but they’ll no longer be able to buy those loot boxes directly.
“In April 2018, the Belgian Gaming Commission published a report that was endorsed by the Belgian Ministry of Justice in which they concluded that paid loot boxes in Overwatch are considered gambling under local law,” Blizzard says.
“While we at Blizzard were surprised by this conclusion and do not share the same opinion, we have decided to comply with their interpretation of Belgian law. As a result, we have no choice but to implement measures that will prevent Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm players located in Belgium from purchasing in-game loot boxes and loot chests with real money and gems.”
The post to the Battle.net forums notes that “These measures will be implemented shortly. We also remain open to further discussions with the Belgian Gaming Commission and Ministry of Justice on this topic.”
Overwatch was named as one of the titles whose loot boxes were in violation of Belgian gambling law back in April, alongside FIFA 18 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Valve has disabled CS:GO loot boxes in Belgium in similar efforts toward compliance.
It’s important to note that the laws cited here aren’t new. Instead, the Belgian Gaming Commission has concluded that loot boxes constitute online gambling, which is already regulated by existing laws. That specific interpretation has been a significant point in loot box legislation. The UK Gambling Commission made the opposite ruling, saying that in-game items can’t be considered gambling unless they have real-world money value – though that doesn’t prevent additional laws specific to loot boxes from eventually being written.
Curiously, Blizzard’s announcement only mentions Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. Many suspected that Hearthstone would come under fire as a result of the Belgian Gaming Commission’s ruling, but it seems that’s not yet the case.