In a recent post on their European forums, Blizzard has announced that the option to purchase loot boxes in two of their games, Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm, will have to be suspended for Belgian players due to a mandate issued by the Belgian Gaming Commission.
The post goes on to explain that the ban comes as a result of a ruling made between the Belgian Gaming Commission and the Ministry of Justice. Both parties have declared that the loot boxes in Overwatch, as well as the loot chests in Heroes of the Storm, are regarded as gambling before the eyes of the law, and therefore do not subject the players to the appropriate regulations that govern gambling practices.
It is clear Blizzard is unsatisfied with the motion in that they state they were “surprised by this conclusion and do not share the same opinion.” The consequence of ignoring this ruling is an extremely hefty fine, and Blizzard have thus added that they will honour the official decision to have the option to pay for loot boxes removed for both games.
Much like a ruling passed on CS:GO in the Netherlands, the central issue here is that monetary value is exchanged for an item based on chance to an unregulated player base. For this reason, players in Belgium can still earn loot boxes by playing/grinding through the game, but it is now considered gambling – and thus illegal – if they are purchased with actual money.
For now, Blizzard’s legal team are meeting with authorities to determine if the option to pay for loot can be reintegrated into both games.