As originally reported by VTM (via Gamasutra), the general director of the the Belgian Gaming Commission, Peter Naessens, told the local news outlet the commission is investigating whether the loot box mechanisms used in Battlefront 2 and Overwatch should be branded as gambling.
The raging debate over loot boxes, and whether they should be considered gambling, feels like it has reached breaking point. Star Wars Battlefront 2 has been at the forefront of the controversial topic in recent weeks with EA receiving a huge amount of backlash over its progression system in Battlefront 2.
This led to changes being made to the title’s loot box system, but still there have been calls for the UK government to step in and regulate loot boxes as a form of gambling. Although the response was pretty lackluster.
If the Belgian government rules against the likes of Overwatch and Battlefront II, the resulting shockwave will have some major impacts on game developers both big and small. Maybe EA will finally stop trying to shove predatory monetisation into their games.
But potential anti-gambling legislation isn’t the only blow to loot boxes this week. Everyone knows of the most-downvoted comment in Reddit history that was made by EA during their damage control over the recent loot box controversy. Well, someone thought it would be a good idea to hold an AMA on the topic.
Now what do you think happened? Did we get concrete assurances that the system towards enjoyment over irritation and grinding? Did EA promise to not include these systems in future games?
Nope, the three participants from DICE, executive producer John Wasilczyk, associate design director Dennis Brannvall, and producer Paul Keslin, all stuck to vague PR platitudes.
Instead of actual answers we got, “We’re committed to making progression a fun experience for all of our players” and “We’re going to continue adjusting the crate systems, content, and progression mechanics to hit a point that gives players a great, balanced experience at all skill levels.” Or replies that rather missed the point, like “I think crates can be a fun addition as long as you don’t feel forced to engage with them in order to progress.”
You can find a very helpful compiled list of all the responses here, but you’re unlikely to read anything that doesn’t sound like its gone through an automatic PR filter. Again, that’s to be expected, but it made the whole event worthless.