Nintendo Pulling Several Mobile Games In Belgium Due To Loot Boxes
Two of Nintendo’s mobile games will soon no longer be available in Belgium.
Loot boxes have become a hot topic in the gaming world in recent years, with games like Battlefield II fanning the flames of the loot box controversy. For years, companies have been using loot boxes to encourage players to spend more money on a single game.
Loot boxes are virtual prizes that contain a select set of items. Usually, items in loot boxes are random, meaning players never know what they will be getting with loot boxes. In most modern games with loot boxes, players are capable of using real-world money to purchase loot boxes.
This created a lot of controversy, as games like Battlefield II took advantage of the system. Much desired items are often hidden within loot boxes, meaning players would have to constantly open loot boxes in order to try to get the items they so desperately want. Often times this would force players to use their own money to buy more loot boxes.
Besides the obvious anti-consumerism with loot boxes, there are also concerns that loot boxes are a source of gambling. Since players can use real-world money to purchase loot boxes and the fact that most loot boxes are random, many governments in the world felt that loot boxes lead players into gambling their own money away.
Many countries took a stronger stance against loot boxes, with several around the world deeming the practice as a source of gambling. Gambling is illegal in many parts of the world, which meant that loot boxes became illegal in those sections of the world. This eventually led to several games being banned in certain countries.
Laws against loot boxes have affected mobile games the most, as several mobile titles almost require players to spend their own money to get loot boxes. Mobile games are generally free-to-play; they make money off of gamers buying loot box-like items in the game.
Nintendo now appears to be compelled to halt services of two mobile games in Belgium. Belgium has strict gambling laws, and the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) ruled that loot boxes in video games constituted as gambling under the current legislation.
The two mobile games Nintendo is discontinuing in Belgium are Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes. The two games relied heavily on gamers purchasing currencies within the game to use them to buy loot box-like items. Both games will no longer be available to download or play starting on August 27, 2019.
Nintendo plans not to release any more games in Belgium that follow a similar revenue model as Pocket Camp and Heroes.