And the first country to put its foot down on the subject was Belgium. The BGC (Belgium Gaming Commission) ultimately decided that loot boxes have inherently gambling-like mechanics, something that is not good to be included in products aimed at children or teens. And from there, there is an ultimatum: Get rid of them in the Belgium versions of the games, or be fined for €800,000(or 5 years in prison.)
In response to this Activision/Blizzard just flipped the switch and now Overwatch in Belgium are loot boxless. Also, Valve made it so CS: GO players can't open the randomly creates.
2K took a more… I want to say “sad” action. They did remove the loot box system from their games, the main one being “NBA 2K”. However, they added a message to all their players: To go and tell their local government official to remove this law.
This act is seen as a very low and in poor taste. A sad attempt to make people be able to be scammed more so they can play more of a game that is not balanced at all without loot boxes.
But then, we have EA. The company behind the original debacle, the originator of all this, the guys that REMOVED AND REBALANCED an entire game that was broke due to its loot boxes. Did they see defeat and remove the system from their games in Belguim? Of…course…not. They took a stand and said that they do not agree with the LAW of this country. Instead, they will take this to court!
But what happened after that? After EA's decided that they are above the law(mainly fueled by greed since loot boxes often bring them billions)?
15 Countries(plus Washington State) all decide to look into this whole loot boxes = gambling question. Yep, even more, major countries are going to get involved in this, which will probably lead to one of two outcomes:
1. Every country will agree that loot boxes should be taken out of games with a TEEN or lower age rating. Or just taken out in general. Leading to a bunch of games getting worse, due to often this crate mechanic being put it to ease the grind the game is design with.
2. Every country will come to a different conclusion, which will lead to multiple versions of each game, each being both worse and better in multiple aspects. This will lead a defined player base, and worse yet… a rise of the “P” world. That's right… piracy! That or server manipulation so that players can be recognized have the regional version of the game they want.
Now some representatives, mainly from 2K, have stated, something to the effect, about how loot boxes are a mainstay in modern game design.
And I hope no one is gullible enough to believe statements like this. Yes, major publishers and game developers to make their games with the intent to profit. But if you created a game, which is bad to play unless you pay more, as in you stuff it with microtransactions and purchasable loot boxes, you are making a bad, unbalanced game, that sole reason for existing is not to be fun, to create something (be it story, gameplay etc.) truly unique, or to even build a community around itself. It is just a way to pinch players pockets, penny by penny.
But let's not forget the wave of troubles this will cause.
No matter what the outcome is, these court cases and government's involvement could open the floodgates for a new era of political meddling and censoring of games. And while at the surface it does not seem to be anything else to meddle with, a reminder that originally no one batted an eye at loot boxes. And now we are here.
Thank you, EA…