The ban on loot boxes in Belgium may not be well enforced. A study shows that the majority of popular games for the iPhone in Belgium still use the prohibited gambling mechanism.
According to research by Leon Y Xiao spotted by GamesIndustry.biz 82 percent of the top 100 highest-grossing games in the App Store contain some form of “random revenue generation,” referring to the loot box’s banned feature by the Belgian Gaming Commission. More than 80 percent of the games suitable for children from the age of 12 also contain loot boxes.
Xiao emphasizes that it is extremely difficult to enforce such a law and that the current policy of the Belgian Gaming Commission is therefore not working. “While the initial enactment of the law sparked public debate both nationally and internationally, an unenforced ‘ban’ has many negative consequences, giving consumers, parents and lawmakers a misplaced sense of security.”
He also argues that developers who don’t follow the rules get an unfair advantage, compounding the problem. According to Xiao, ‘responsible game companies’ are making way for games that ignore current legislation.
Currently, loot boxes are considered gambling in Belgium when they can be purchased with real money and when the contents are left to chance. Partly for this reason, certain mechanics are being removed from games for the Belgian market, for example by removing certain currencies from FIFA in 2019. In some cases, games are not released in Belgium at all due to loot box legislation. For example, Diablo Immortal is not available in Belgium and the Netherlands. Speaking of the Netherlands, laws regarding loot boxes also apply here. When the contents of a loot box can be traded for real money, it counts as a gambling mechanism and is prohibited.