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Lootboxes are gambling (Official Statement)

Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,156
In an official statement from the Belgian Gaming Commision, they declare that lootboxes are gambling:

https://www.gamingcommission.be/opencms/export/sites/default/jhksweb_nl/documents/onderzoeksrapport-loot-boxen-Engels-publicatie.pdf

With the definitions that they give, they make it clear that all lootboxes are now illegal in Belgium. They recommend criminal prosecution on this basis. (Note: They will not proceed with this until the Minister of Justice meets with industry stakeholders).

I would expect to see lootboxes pulled ASAP, but also to see legal challenges to several of the definitions that they have given. I am also not certain how this affects the EU in general vs just Belgium.

Torvaltime007MellowTiggerMauerickYashaX
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Comments

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 20,791
    What happens if game companies respond to this by banning people from accessing the game from Belgium?  Or by saying that you can't buy loot boxes from Belgium, but will have to compete against people from other countries who are powered up by loot boxes?
    Torval
  • AlbatroesAlbatroes Member LegendaryPosts: 6,225
    I'd just like to give a shoutout to EA for publicly being greedy arsehats and helping to put lootboxes into a political spotlight across the globe.
    SedrynTyrosRhoklawAsm0deusIselinWraithonemrputtsanemoWellspringAlexanderVendiAlomarand 2 others.
  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 20,481
    edited May 2018
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
  • Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,156
    Quizzical said:
    What happens if game companies respond to this by banning people from accessing the game from Belgium?  Or by saying that you can't buy loot boxes from Belgium, but will have to compete against people from other countries who are powered up by loot boxes?
    At this time it would not be an unreasonable response from all online gaming companies to simply IP block Belgium until they meet with the commissioner. The ruling is very clear, and most companies are risk averse.
    Torval
  • AlbatroesAlbatroes Member LegendaryPosts: 6,225
    edited May 2018
    Quizzical said:
    What happens if game companies respond to this by banning people from accessing the game from Belgium?  Or by saying that you can't buy loot boxes from Belgium, but will have to compete against people from other countries who are powered up by loot boxes?
    Chances are games that want to continue to have their lootboxes will have to just officer a Belgium exclusive client/server/etc in order to continue to do business. I think Activision-Blizzard did some work around or something with overwatch in China by offering the boxes for free but selling the keys instead (someone can correct me if I'm wrong).
  • Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,156
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.
    TorvalcraftseekerAlomarkjempff
  • sui2ksui2k Member UncommonPosts: 29
    don't underestimate it. it isn't just Belgium Netherlands, England even Germany are going to rule on this. this will be a huge impact in the EU for "lootboxes" declared as gambling.

  • Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,156
    sui2k said:
    don't underestimate it. it isn't just Belgium Netherlands, England even Germany are going to rule on this. this will be a huge impact in the EU for "lootboxes" declared as gambling.

    Declaring them gambling is not a big deal. What is a big deal is WHY they are determined to be gambling, as that effects a lot more.
    TorvalMendel
  • UtinniUtinni Member RarePosts: 665
    I'm not a fan of loot boxes but this is a bit ridiculous. Perhaps I've just never felt compelled to buy loot boxes, especially on the main grounds of this document of "someone else has cool shit so I feel pressured to buy loot boxes". 
  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 10,707
    Progress

    gervaise1Asm0deusRexKushmanVrikaklash2def

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  • RhoklawRhoklaw Member EpicPosts: 6,313
    Sorry EA, time to go back to making real games with actual content instead of F2P / B2P crap supported by ridiculous P2W cash shop shenanigans.
    mrputtsAlomar

  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 20,481
    edited May 2018
    Quizzical said:
    What happens if game companies respond to this by banning people from accessing the game from Belgium?  Or by saying that you can't buy loot boxes from Belgium, but will have to compete against people from other countries who are powered up by loot boxes?

    What would happen is the lootbox laws would be reversed after enough gamers got pissed off and petitioned to have it removed
    craftseekerPsYcHoGBRSinsaikjempff
  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 20,481
    edited May 2018
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.

    Then this is beyond moronic.

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are player bound.

    Lets say the game is also single player.

    If that falls under a gambling law - it is the dumbest shit ever.


    There must be guidelines established for tradability with other players for some real world value.
    NildenAlomarklash2def
  • Asm0deusAsm0deus Member EpicPosts: 2,847
    edited May 2018
    Progress

    Agreed.

    Now other countries need to get off their asses and follow suit.  I am a grown man and don't care if other grown ups want to gamble HOWEVER please do so in the appropriate venue.

    Hawaii up next?


    DMKano said:
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.

    Then this is beyond moronic.

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are player bound.

    Lets say the game is also single player.

    If that falls under a gambling law - it is the dumbest shit ever.


    There must be guidelines established for tradability with other players for some real world value.
    Naw it's not dumb.  What you're talking about isn't lootboxes but RNG in chests etc.  In your example there's no IRL monies involved whatsoever.

      Lootboxes are loot boxes because somewhere along the line REAL MONEY is used to get them, open them or buy in game currency to use them etc or some variation of this.
    RaventhallSandmanjwcraftseeker

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  • Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,156
    edited May 2018
    DMKano said:
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.

    Then this is beyond moronic.

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are player bound.

    Lets say the game is also single player.

    If that falls under a gambling law - it is the dumbest shit ever.


    There must be guidelines established for tradability with other players for some real world value.
    The key is:

     a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay,

    If it can not be obtained directly or indirectly via money, then it fails the bet criteria as defined. They also explicatively stated that they were not considering game purchase price, or monthly subscription at this time. However, let me modify your statement, and speculate:

    Lets say a B2P game, with two versions, one that does not include any lootboxes, and one that cost extra, and does.

    This might fall under the current ruling, but is not specifically called out as such.

    The other example is:

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are tradeable.

    This would NOT fall under the current ruling, as tradeability is not relevant to the gambling criteria.

    DMKano said:
    Quizzical said:
    What happens if game companies respond to this by banning people from accessing the game from Belgium?  Or by saying that you can't buy loot boxes from Belgium, but will have to compete against people from other countries who are powered up by loot boxes?

    What would happen is the lootbox laws would be reversed after enough gamers got pissed off and petitioned to have it removed
    The statements made by the gaming commission are an interpretation of the existing law, not a new law. This would require that the existing law be revoked or amended.
  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 19,150
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.
    I do not expect to see many others outside of Europe adopt this until they see how it all rolls out. For one thing in the United States, the "no value" exception probably won't fly. The potential for it to affect all other regulated gambling is too risky for at least my state (Oregon) to hop on that bandwagon. We like gambling and regulate it. We're more likely to tax things like loot crates and put an age limit on them than we are to make them illegal.

    If I'm wrong and everyone hops onboard I'll be this guy... :lol:

    take back the hobby: https://www.reddit.com/r/patientgamers/

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  • WizardryWizardry Member LegendaryPosts: 16,094
    Of course it is gambling and should fall under the law EVERYWHERE and soon it will..It is just that the law in general is very lazy..slow,it takes a large public eye and controversy to get government officials to take action.
    It only proves that businesses have ZERO ethics,they couldn't care less about anyone but themselves,remember that the next time you hear about some developer claims they listen to the gamer's.
    Yeah they listen and hear what they want to hear,if it gives them good PR they are all over it.
    Really sad that is is the law that has to FORCE businesses to act properly,people won't act accordingly on their own.
    Asm0deus

    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 20,481
    Asm0deus said:
    Progress

    Agreed.

    Now other countries need to get off their asses and follow suit.  I am a grown man and don't care if other grown ups want to gamble HOWEVER please do so in the appropriate venue.

    Hawaii up next?


    DMKano said:
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.

    Then this is beyond moronic.

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are player bound.

    Lets say the game is also single player.

    If that falls under a gambling law - it is the dumbest shit ever.


    There must be guidelines established for tradability with other players for some real world value.
    Naw it's not dumb.  What you're talking about isn't lootboxes DMKano but rng in chests etc.

      Lootboxes are loot boxes because somewhere along the line REAL MONEY is used to get them open them or buy in game currency to use them etc.

    No lootboxes can be lootboxes without any real money involved.

    box with rng loot = lootbox

    Where does it say that it has to be obtained by any currency be it in-game or real money?


    Are they creating a new definition for a lootbox?

    craftseekerNildenAlomar
  • HorusraHorusra Member EpicPosts: 4,062
    Asm0deus said:
    Progress

    Agreed.

    Now other countries need to get off their asses and follow suit.  I am a grown man and don't care if other grown ups want to gamble HOWEVER please do so in the appropriate venue.

    Hawaii up next?


    DMKano said:
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.

    Then this is beyond moronic.

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are player bound.

    Lets say the game is also single player.

    If that falls under a gambling law - it is the dumbest shit ever.


    There must be guidelines established for tradability with other players for some real world value.
    Naw it's not dumb.  What you're talking about isn't lootboxes DMKano but rng in chests etc.

      Lootboxes are loot boxes because somewhere along the line REAL MONEY is used to get them open them or buy in game currency to use them etc.
    I do not believe that Hawaii can do much on its own except ban people from accessing the sites.  Much like with Fantasy sports.  
  • Asm0deusAsm0deus Member EpicPosts: 2,847
    edited May 2018
    DMKano said:
    Asm0deus said:
    Progress

    Agreed.

    Now other countries need to get off their asses and follow suit.  I am a grown man and don't care if other grown ups want to gamble HOWEVER please do so in the appropriate venue.

    Hawaii up next?


    DMKano said:
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.

    Then this is beyond moronic.

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are player bound.

    Lets say the game is also single player.

    If that falls under a gambling law - it is the dumbest shit ever.


    There must be guidelines established for tradability with other players for some real world value.
    Naw it's not dumb.  What you're talking about isn't lootboxes DMKano but rng in chests etc.

      Lootboxes are loot boxes because somewhere along the line REAL MONEY is used to get them open them or buy in game currency to use them etc.

    No lootboxes can be lootboxes without any real money involved.

    box with rng loot = lootbox

    Where does it say that it has to be obtained by any currency be it in-game or real money?


    Are they creating a new definition for a lootbox?

    No.

    We have had endgame chests or dungeon chest with elements of RNG in them forever that is not a lootbox.

    A lootbox are the new "chests" that can drop anywhere but REQUIRE real life, somewhere down the line, money to use.

    If you buy a b2p game and loot drops in a dungeon chest but you can only do so many dungeons per day or only open so many per day they are not lootboxes...it's a game mechanic.

    If lootboxes are added in solely for the purpose to "make real life monies" by getting the whales, kiddies etc etc to fork out cash they are loot boxes. It's the same mechanic used in gambling in casinos and other internet gambling sites.
    craftseekerysquare21

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  • Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,156
    DMKano said:
    Asm0deus said:
    Progress

    Agreed.

    Now other countries need to get off their asses and follow suit.  I am a grown man and don't care if other grown ups want to gamble HOWEVER please do so in the appropriate venue.

    Hawaii up next?


    DMKano said:
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.

    Then this is beyond moronic.

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are player bound.

    Lets say the game is also single player.

    If that falls under a gambling law - it is the dumbest shit ever.


    There must be guidelines established for tradability with other players for some real world value.
    Naw it's not dumb.  What you're talking about isn't lootboxes DMKano but rng in chests etc.

      Lootboxes are loot boxes because somewhere along the line REAL MONEY is used to get them open them or buy in game currency to use them etc.

    No lootboxes can be lootboxes without any real money involved.

    box with rng loot = lootbox

    Where does it say that it has to be obtained by any currency be it in-game or real money?


    Are they creating a new definition for a lootbox?


    Start with section 5:

    a game of chance is any game whereby a bet of any kind that is placed leads to the loss of this bet by at least one of the players, or a win of any kind for at least one of the players or organisers of the game, and whereby chance may even be a secondary element in the course of the game, indication of the winner or determination of the size of the winnings.

    The element in question is the 'bet'

    Then under 5.1.2

    In this investigation, we assume that neither the purchase of the game nor the subscriptions that are connected to games for playing online can be considered as a wager.4
    So when the player purchases in-game currency to buy a loot box, this constitutes a wager in the sense of the Belgian Gaming and Betting Act because an asset value is brought into the game that serves as a participation fee/compensation fee for the loot box. This is not the case if the loot box is purchased with game-play currency.51 A fortiori, a direct purchase of a loot box in the game without the necessity of in-game currency being used, such as in Overwatch and CS GO, is thus considered to be a wager in the sense of the Gaming and Betting Act. 

    So, it is clear that the direct purchase via currency, or the indirect purchase via virtual currency purchased with real currency qualifies. They clearly state that they do not consider the purchase of the game or subscriptions at this time.

     Game-play currency consists of virtual currencies (points, coins, crystal, etc.) that a player gets when playing the game but that he cannot necessarily purchase. It is a type of virtual reward system for the player. Usually he will be able to bet these currencies in the game at some point.49 In Overwatch, for example, the player can purchase items with such coins (“credits”) in the “Hero Gallery”. Social psychology shows us that these rewards are very sophisticated. Sometimes the rewards are trivial for an outsider and sometimes they do not affect the game (e.g., the colour of a T-shirt), but they Attention: this document has been translated from Dutch to English. The official version is in Dutch. 10 can be quite important to the course of the game. In any case, we do not consider the gameplay currency as a wager in the sense of the Gaming and Betting Act if this cannot be purchased

    They also state that they do not consider virtual currency earned in game to qualify for this.

    craftseekerBeatnik59
  • DvoraDvora Member UncommonPosts: 473
    DMKano said:
    Quizzical said:
    What happens if game companies respond to this by banning people from accessing the game from Belgium?  Or by saying that you can't buy loot boxes from Belgium, but will have to compete against people from other countries who are powered up by loot boxes?

    What would happen is the lootbox laws would be reversed after enough gamers got pissed off and petitioned to have it removed
    I really hope a majority of people are not stupid enough to do that.
    Asm0deusPsYcHoGBRSinsaiklash2def
  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 20,481
    edited May 2018
    Oh btw just 2 days ago EA has decided to keep putting lootboxes in its games

    https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/09/ea-loot-boxes-are-gambling-heres-more-loot-boxes/

    https://www.pcgamer.com/electronic-arts-will-push-forward-with-loot-boxes-in-future-games/


    If you guys think that this legislation will get the gaming industry to just drop lootboxes - lol


    Look at how Blizzard circumvented the law in China - where lootboxes are already illegal:

    "The law also banned game publishers from directly selling "lottery tickets" such as loot boxes. In June 2017, Blizzard Entertainment announced that, "in line with the new laws and regulations", loot boxes in their game Overwatch would no longer be available for purchase in China. Players would instead buy in-game currency and receive loot boxes as a "gift" for making the purchase"

    There's always a loophole - and the industry will exploit every possible loophole
  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 19,150
    DMKano said:
    DMKano said:
    No not all.

    It has to have real world value.

    Otherwise games that have untradable lootboxes for in game currency only would also fall under this
    They make it very clear in their review that real world value is no longer a requirement. And yes, if those lootboxes can be purchased with real money (or via a virtual currency that can be obtained for real money) then they fall under this ruling.  Read the section for Overwatch for some examples of their thinking. Items obtained from the Overwatch lootboxes are only cosmetic, and can not be traded.

    Then this is beyond moronic.

    Lets say a B2P game without a cash shop has a lootbox mechanic that can only br obtained via gameplay, lets say its a reward for dungeon completion and the lootbox as well as all items are player bound.

    Lets say the game is also single player.

    If that falls under a gambling law - it is the dumbest shit ever.


    There must be guidelines established for tradability with other players for some real world value.
    Who is going to decide where the RNG for money ends?

    Is it a loot crate if it can damage your "character" back and opening it is gamified through a combat simulation? If so then that will screw up a lot of RPGs. If not then all studios need to do is gamify their loot crates. Make them look like a monster and provide a combat simulation.

    However this plays out, it will be interesting to see how studios and publishers solve this puzzle. I think Belgium will find they're in the same situation publishers are with gold farmers. They're going for a moving target.
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  • DvoraDvora Member UncommonPosts: 473
    edited May 2018
    Wizardry said:
    Of course it is gambling and should fall under the law EVERYWHERE and soon it will..It is just that the law in general is very lazy..slow,it takes a large public eye and controversy to get government officials to take action.
    It only proves that businesses have ZERO ethics,they couldn't care less about anyone but themselves,remember that the next time you hear about some developer claims they listen to the gamer's.
    Yeah they listen and hear what they want to hear,if it gives them good PR they are all over it.
    Really sad that is is the law that has to FORCE businesses to act properly,people won't act accordingly on their own.
    it takes high visibility and controvery OR the scent of money to be made.  I could very easily see this going from illegal to being illegal without an expensive license and/or percentage fees.

    IMO that's not right, either it's abusive and wrong or it is not.  Part of what separates abusive loot boxes from standard gambling, other than lame and shitty P2W is that most games don't even publish odds of each prize.  
This discussion has been closed.