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Paid Loot Boxes and Chests Removed in Belgium

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The anti-gambling laws we covered earlier this year, which declared loot boxes in certain games to constitute gambling in Belgium and the Netherlands, have come to pass and you can no longer buy Loot Boxes in Overwatch and Loot Chests in Heroes of the Storm in Belgium. While other gaming companies like Valve have found ways to work around the laws, with DOTA 2 in the Netherlands for example, where they show the contents of the next loot box you can buy, and you can't buy multiple boxes at once, which apparently removes the gambling aspect (even though it actually just moves it one step down the road, since you don't know what's in the next one). Blizzard have opted to just ditch Loot Boxes entirely it seems, or at least until they can find a solution themselves:

Blizzard LogoPaid Loot Boxes (source)

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. 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.

No matter what, we want to make sure that our players around the world have the best entertainment experience possible. While players in Belgium will no longer be able to purchase paid loot boxes in Overwatch and loot chests in Heroes of the Storm, they’ll still be able to earn them by playing the games, and they’ll still have access to all in-game content.

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.

Here's a previous quote on the new laws from the Belgian government:

Quote

"We have already taken numerous measures to protect both minors and adults against the influence of, among other things, gambling advertising.
That is why we must also ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they are looking for fun in a video game."
- Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens

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2 hours ago, Stan said:

Good. Hopefully, more countries will follow. 

Yeah because content is free. 🤣 We would rather have Blizzard like the olden times where they release a new title around every 2 years right? Or rather than significant new titles, only patches every few months? Rather than every 2 weeks for let's say HoTs? 

 

 

I would gladly pay for loot chests as long as it supports more content. 

 

 

 

Some people would rather pay for their digital goods than spend their free time grinding endless hours,  rather than risk people stealing their accounts by paying for the grind. Don't impose your life style preferences to the rest of us. It's not like loot boxes are a REQUIREMENT to play these games. 

Edited by greatCraft

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Very interesting that they decided to go this route instead of following Valve especially considering how they handled a similar law in China when it came to Hearthstone (no longer selling packs, but dust with packs as a bonus... sophistry at it's best!). I'd love to know the internal reasoning.

Edited by tkioz
spelling

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"We have already taken numerous measures to protect both minors and adults against the influence of, among other things, gambling advertising.
That is why we must also ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they are looking for fun in a video game."
- Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens

 

 

EVERYTHING HAS TO DO WITH PROBABILITY.

Edited by greatCraft

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. While we at Blizzard were surprised by this conclusion and do not share the same opinion

I just don't understand how anyone could possibly disagree that lootboxes are gambling.

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1 hour ago, greatCraft said:

Yeah because content is free. 🤣 We would rather have Blizzard like the olden times where they release a new title around every 2 years right? Or rather than significant new titles, only patches every few months? Rather than every 2 weeks for let's say HoTs? 

(...)
Some people would rather pay for their digital goods than spend their free time grinding endless hours,  rather than risk people stealing their accounts by paying for the grind. Don't impose your life style preferences to the rest of us. It's not like loot boxes are a REQUIREMENT to play these games. 

You can still pay for content by buying digital goods, just not when it's wrapped up in a gambling scheme. The BeNeLux countries have huuuge state monopoly on gambling (which is basically the taxation of the poor) and when they see that someone else arises as a tax-collector - well, they intervene.
Blizzard and other videogame companies do not promote loot boxes as the ideal business model for new generation games, because that's your best interest, but because they can make multi-100% profit it on it. That's a heavy cash machine attached to the base gaming software, which of course can also pay for weekly or monthly new content rather than yearly.

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48 minutes ago, Brutalis said:

I just don't understand how anyone could possibly disagree that lootboxes are gambling.

Exactly, no-one with an ounce of sense can say it isn't, not without outright lying. They could sell the skins/etc with a buy what you want system, but they know point blank that it will bring in less money, partly because you'd no longer have the random factor, but also because humans love that dopamine hit that comes from opening a 'mystery box'.

It's why otherwise rational people buy lotto tickets, they can tell you the odds are so laughable that they'll break even, let alone profit, but they still buy them, simply because our monkey brains are wired that way.

Hell I'm not immune to it myself, I love buying Hearthstone packs. I know it's not cost effective, I know I'll likely end up having to craft the cards I want anyway... but damn if hoping for that LEGENDARY sound effect to go off each time I open a pack isn't a high.

Still I have to admit that Blizzard is one of the least horrible in the industry, and that's saying something right there.

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Gambling is legal here in the UK but you must be an adult to play on the jackpot machines in places like pubs as well as 16 plus for the lottery. It can turn into an addiction real quick, despite being fully regulated and no fixing allowed. This seems to be different for the lootbox system employed by companies such as Blizzard, who seem free to allow at least one superior card at least in every Heartstone card pack, while OW and HotS boxes are routinely stuffed with hollow filler. Despite the latter being the lesser of all evils, you only have to look as far as the gems and the 'options' for buying gem only bundles to get a sense of how unchecked corporate greed can be.

Marketing people will make it sound good on paper, because that is their job to sell goods manufactured in China for a fraction of living minimum wage costs to make huge wholesale profits elsewhere; selling digital products locked behind loaded dice because the free option takes too much time and effort with little transparency is a trend that needs nipping in the bud ASAP. Just because Blizzard seems to be fairer than most other companies and hasn't went so far as to do DLC microtransactions or pay to win models does not make it okay to normalise the concept of gambling for minors especially. 

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5 hours ago, Brutalis said:

I just don't understand how anyone could possibly disagree that lootboxes are gambling.

and i can't really understad why those lootboxes are counted as gambling, since they just offer visual changes. Nothing to gain power, or as in real gambling, gain money. The horrible examples are not far: There was Star wars Battlefront, which had some serious powergains locked behind the lootboxes, and counterstrike which let you even sell your items for real money again. Those are clearly gambling in my eyes, and each system that comes close.

But rolling the dice for some visual upgrades hurts no one. If we go down this road to much, everything with the slightest game of chance will be banned.

seeing into the globe of future:
"World of Warcraft banned in Belgium, because the rogue class can "roll the dice" to get random buffs. This is a serious gambling problem and causes children, already at the age of 12, being forced to gamble to gain power!!"

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1 hour ago, Lawrenz said:

But rolling the dice for some visual upgrades hurts no one. If we go down this road to much, everything with the slightest game of chance will be banned.

 

If those systems are designed to rip up children - yeah, ban all of them.

Why are there all the colors, lights, flashes and sounds when you open a pack / box? Because it animates the brain to open more.

It works exactly as a slot machine.

And you don't put slot machines in schools, do you? Or even make it legal for children to play on them?

 

Just the faking of surprise "oh, that is gambling" should earn them more punishment...

It's like a drug dealer telling you: "honestly, I didn't know my product is addicting. That can't be true, can it?"

 

Obviously you can sell cosmetic stuff - just present all the avaiable stuff and player can then choose what they want to buy.

Or - if you insist on gambling - make your game for adults only. Then you can gamble as much as your like as I am concerned. Because as an adult it's your own fault if you can't control yourself.

 

There are a lot of possibilities to companies like Blizzard. 

Ripping children off with addictive gambling shouldn't be one of them.

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On 8/28/2018 at 1:25 AM, greatCraft said:

Yeah because content is free. 🤣 We would rather have Blizzard like the olden times where they release a new title around every 2 years right? Or rather than significant new titles, only patches every few months? Rather than every 2 weeks for let's say HoTs? 

I would gladly pay for loot chests as long as it supports more content. 

Some people would rather pay for their digital goods than spend their free time grinding endless hours,  rather than risk people stealing their accounts by paying for the grind. Don't impose your life style preferences to the rest of us. It's not like loot boxes are a REQUIREMENT to play these games. 

I hate the current Loot Chests system... let me buy the skins I want without gating them behind more RNG, duplicates, and currencies in a game, where I'm already paying real money to get them and nothing is guaranteed. If they at least removed duplicates...

Don't get me wrong I have no problem with Loot Chests so long as they'd come up with a normal system. I mean you pay for a chance to win something...

On the other hand, they make your gameplay rewarding. It’s great to receive one once in a while when you complete the weekly brawl or level up a Hero. 

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They should also prohibit the following:

1) Investment into academics unless a college admission can be guaranteed

2) Investment into a sport or esport that a person hopes to become a pro in

3) etcetcetcetcetcectetc. Like everything that has competition. 

 

 

Let's be FAIR.

 

 

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42 minutes ago, greatCraft said:

They should also prohibit the following:

1) Investment into academics unless a college admission can be guaranteed

2) Investment into a sport or esport that a person hopes to become a pro in

3) etcetcetcetcetcectetc. Like everything that has competition. 

 

 

Let's be FAIR.

 

 

I've read quite a lot of bullshit on the Internet in the last 20 years. 
You managed to make into into the top 1% with this posting.

I am not sure if "congratulation" is the correct term, but well...

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2 hours ago, Lawrenz said:

and i can't really understad why those lootboxes are counted as gambling, since they just offer visual changes.

The reward doesn't matter, the mechanics do. It only takes a small amount of information about how the human brain is wired to understand this. Pretty much every loot box system is designed purposely to keep you pulling that lever for a dopamine hit.

While I'm all for personal freedom and all that jazz, these games are aimed at children and teens, you know people whose brains haven't finished forming. They normalise gambling to a worrying degree. It's the same reason sports betting advertisement is a hot topic in my country and the same reason cigarette and alcohol advertising was banned (former) and heavily restricted (latter). 

Game companies could easily make their money by selling items on a 'buy what you want' system, be it a skin or emote or whatever, but they know that their use of skinner box systems makes them magnitudes more, and while Overwatch and Blizzard are very high profile there are others out there that have taken it to extremes that are disgusting, which is why this is getting stomped on.

It's very much a case of "this is why we can't have nice things".

Edited by tkioz

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Hmm...so you can still buy gems with real life money if you want to support HoTS in Belgium, and instead of buying loot boxes get a stimpack or the direct buys, right? So its not that bad if I understood it correctly.

For Overwatch they should probably just introduce a "buy credits" option, allowing for pretty direct purchases, but that might hasten other countries' reactions to their lucrative loot box business so dunno if it will happen.

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10 hours ago, greatCraft said:

They should also prohibit the following:

1) Investment into academics unless a college admission can be guaranteed

2) Investment into a sport or esport that a person hopes to become a pro in

3) etcetcetcetcetcectetc. Like everything that has competition. 

 

 

Let's be FAIR.

What? 

 

9 hours ago, Seksi said:

For Overwatch they should probably just introduce a "buy credits" option

They should, but then this decreases the 'excitement' of gambling, right? Who would want that? I know Blizz wouldn't.

 

12 hours ago, Lawrenz said:

"World of Warcraft banned in Belgium, because the rogue class can "roll the dice" to get random buffs. This is a serious gambling problem and causes children, already at the age of 12, being forced to gamble to gain power!!"

This doesn't make any sense. Every game has a RNG-aspect right now. BUT that movement in game is calculated beforehand, you know what can you get. And you don't pay real money to do that. I don't know how you think this is the same as paying for a lootbox.

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Personally this just sounds like a whole lot of big government talking points. No one is forcing people to buy these loots boxes it’s simply an option the game gives you most of it is cosmetic. I guess you can argue that hearthstone is pay to win with the packs. Regardless, if you have a gambling problem that’s a cultural issue amongst a community you don’t need to get government involved telling you how to live your life. It’s easy; be a stronger person and don’t give into temptation. This same concept ties into the drug problems we have in the states. I just find it weird no one seems to put responsibility on the individual. And if you wanna talk about kids then raise your kids better and you don’t have to worry. 

Edited by ISB1453

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18 hours ago, ISB1453 said:

Personally this just sounds like a whole lot of big government talking points. No one is forcing people to buy these loots boxes it’s simply an option the game gives you most of it is cosmetic. I guess you can argue that hearthstone is pay to win with the packs. Regardless, if you have a gambling problem that’s a cultural issue amongst a community you don’t need to get government involved telling you how to live your life. It’s easy; be a stronger person and don’t give into temptation. This same concept ties into the drug problems we have in the states. I just find it weird no one seems to put responsibility on the individual. And if you wanna talk about kids then raise your kids better and you don’t have to worry. 

Just that there is no misunderstanding: You think it would be great to sell drugs in a school?

Or put gambling machines in a school?

How about Alcohol and Tobacco - should you sell this in a scholl (or even Kindergarten?) too?

 

Society is based on people deciding for themselves what they want to do. That is correct.
But that refers to ADULTS. People where the brain is finished forming. 
Children need a special kind of protection. (If you define the age at 18 or 16, that is free to discuss of course.)

Personally I'd make selling of drugs legal - I'd sell Heroine, Cocaine from the state. It would totally ruin organized crime and in the same time it would not greatly increase the problems with hard drugs. (Most products sell more if they are cheaper and more easily avaiable. Drugs do not. There are not many that would buy cocaine just because it is cheap.) Let people need to get a recipee from a doctor, then they can buy drugs from the state. 
But that ONLY applies to adults obviously. 

You can't sell stuff like that to children. 

From your last sentence you make it obvious that you do not have children on your own.

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5 hours ago, WedgeAntilles said:

Just that there is no misunderstanding: You think it would be great to sell drugs in a school?

Or put gambling machines in a school?

How about Alcohol and Tobacco - should you sell this in a scholl (or even Kindergarten?) too?

 

Society is based on people deciding for themselves what they want to do. That is correct.
But that refers to ADULTS. People where the brain is finished forming. 
Children need a special kind of protection. (If you define the age at 18 or 16, that is free to discuss of course.)

Personally I'd make selling of drugs legal - I'd sell Heroine, Cocaine from the state. It would totally ruin organized crime and in the same time it would not greatly increase the problems with hard drugs. (Most products sell more if they are cheaper and more easily avaiable. Drugs do not. There are not many that would buy cocaine just because it is cheap.) Let people need to get a recipee from a doctor, then they can buy drugs from the state. 
But that ONLY applies to adults obviously. 

You can't sell stuff like that to children. 

From your last sentence you make it obvious that you do not have children on your own.

I agree with you on the kids part but my problem is we have shifted emphasis on family and the parents decisions to what the government decides. I agree absolutely they haven’t grown yet enough to properly make their own decisions and I agree with regulation to keep it out of kids hands. I just dont like the direction we have taken where we put more emphasis on government shadowing us than emphasis on families making better decisions. Of course this is a cultural problem and we are living in a world where we have become too comfortable

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21 hours ago, ISB1453 said:

I agree with you on the kids part but my problem is we have shifted emphasis on family and the parents decisions to what the government decides. I agree absolutely they haven’t grown yet enough to properly make their own decisions and I agree with regulation to keep it out of kids hands. I just dont like the direction we have taken where we put more emphasis on government shadowing us than emphasis on families making better decisions. Of course this is a cultural problem and we are living in a world where we have become too comfortable

With that I totally agree.

Especiall in Germany tht is a total nightmare.

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