The outcry among gamers caused the publisher to pull the micropayments but the issue has since been taken by up by various governments. Today, Belgium announced that it considered loot crates with unknown items as gambling and wants them banned in Europe.
Last week, Belgium's Gaming Commission announced that it was investigating whether the loot crates available in Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront II constituted as a form of gambling. Local channel, VTM News (via PC Gamer) has now reported that the ruling is in. Koen Geens, Belgium's Minister of Justice, also added "Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child."
Loot crates with unknown items may never be banned but if anything, these events are a promising start. It'll take years for a law — if one even passes — to go into effect. However, it looks like lawmakers in the United States are also taking notice. Today, Hawaii State Representatives called out EA for its business practices in Star Wars Battlefront II.
The Representatives noted that Star Wars Battlefront II encouraged gambling and targeted children. It's unclear whether an agreement will be reached, however, recognized that a dialogue is needed in an official capacity. Representative Chris Lee shared some stern remarks about the game, during a press conference.
We are here today to ensure future protection to kids, youth and everyone when it comes to the spread of predatory practices in online ingredients and the significant financial consequences it can have on families and has been having on families of this nation. This game is a Star Wars themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money.
Star Wars Battlefront II is rated "T for Teen" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). This means that children under the age of eighteen can purchase and play it without their parents. In fact, the ESRB says that T-rated games are generally suitable for ages "thirteen and up."
Adults may have an understanding that loot crates are all about luck and chance — just like gambling — children as young as thirteen might not fully grasp the consequences. Hopefully, loot crate practices will become more transparent in the future now that governments are getting involved, but only time will tell.
Update 11/22/17: Officials in Victoria, Australia also said that loot crates constitute gambling. Instead of banning them outright, the consensus seems to be that we must make sure minors aren't exposed to such practices. This may mean that ratings for games which include loot crates are higher and there are stricter requirements for buying them.
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