The Belgian Gaming Commission has stepped up to investigate the loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Overwatch. This is presumably in response to a part of the gaming community likening loot boxes to gambling. Depending on their ruling, we might get to see official regulation of loot boxes.
The Battlefront 2 loot box controversy is showing no signs of slowing down. The developers tried to quell the player outrage by holding an AMA on Reddit, but that did not do much to help. Quite the opposite, with players getting further frustrated with the vague replies. Meanwhile, in the game itself, players have found new things to get angry about. After the announcement that hero costs in credits will be significantly slashed, in-game rewards also got the ax. You now get only 5.000 credits after completing the main story. Moreover, they put a time wall behind credits you can get in Arcade Mode. It’s a mess.
However, the controversy has attracted more eyes onto the concept of loot boxes. People have been suggesting that loot crates with random drops that you can buy are dangerously similar to gambling, leading to possible addiction. According to VTM Nieuws (the article is in Flemish), the Belgian Gaming Commission is now investigating the issue of loot boxes in Battlefront 2. Interestingly, the Gaming Commission, which is in charge of regulating gaming in Belgium, is also looking into Overwatch.
Now, I know what some of you are going to say. The loot you get in Overwatch is only cosmetic, while the stuff you get in Battlefield 2 loot boxes has a very real impact on the gameplay. That very likely won’t matter at all in this investigation. To paraphrase Peter Naessens, the director of the Commission, the deciding factor here is the element of chance. And, since loot boxes do have random outcomes, this could place them squarely in that area. This might mean that EA and Blizzard will end up having to pay massive fines and get a permit from the Commission. It might even lead to loot boxes getting regulated in some manner. It’ll be very interesting to see how this pans out.