The Belgian Gaming Commission has launched an investigation on EA’s “Star Wars Battlefront II” over its loot boxes. The regulatory body of Belgium is trying to determine whether the loot boxes offered by the upcoming “Star Wars” game is considered as gambling.
EA’s “Star Wars Battlefront II” hasn’t even been released yet, but it has already garnered a lot of negative criticism over its loot box system. Loot boxes in “Battlefront II” can contain items that can affect gameplay and could give some users an advantage over other players. These loot boxes can be earned by playing the game or by spending real money.
Due to the randomized contents of loot boxes, the Belgian Gaming Commission believes it could fall under the category of gambling, according to VTM News. The agency is responsible for regulating all forms of gambling in Belgium and is also investigating the loot box system of Blizzard Entertainment’s “Overwatch.”
The loot boxes in “Overwatch” only offer randomized cosmetic items and don’t actually affect gameplay. “Overwatch” might not be impacted as much by this investigation. As for “Battlefront II,” loot boxes could contain Star Cards that could improve a player’s stats thereby possibly having an advantage over other players. Some Star Cards could boost resistance against damage and improve health regeneration, while others can grant users new abilities specific to their class. “If there is a game of chance, it is not possible without a permit from the Gaming Commission,” the commission’s director Peter Naessens said, via PCGamesN.
The Belgian Gaming Commission is primarily concerned with the possibility that these loot boxes could be dangerous to children. Younger players might spend a lot of money due to peer pressure and it could also lead to gambling addiction. In a statement received by GameSpot, EA says that the loot box system for “Battlefront II” is not gambling.
“Creating a fair and fun game experience is of critical importance to EA. The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling. A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all. Once obtained, players are always guaranteed to receive content that can be used in game.”
As for the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the organization responsible for classifying and rating video games in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, it doesn’t consider loot boxes as gambling.
“While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have,” an ESRB spokesperson told Kotaku last month.
If the Belgian Gaming Commission finds that the loot box system in “Star Wars Battlefront II” is considered as gambling, EA could be asked to pay a fine that might cost hundreds of thousands of euros. The worst case scenario here is that the Gaming Commission could also have the game removed from sale in Belgium. “Star Wars Battlefront II” is expected to be released worldwide on Nov. 17 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the PC.