Blizzard Disables Loot Boxes in Belgium for Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard has announced that paying for loot boxes in Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm has been removed for Belgium Players due to the Belgian Gaming Commission’s report from April that stated the option falls under gambling according to their local law. While Blizzard disagrees with this decision, they have removed the option in order to comply with this decision. Players will still be able to attain the boxes by performing well in-game, such as leveling up in Overwatch, or by purchasing them with in-game currency. In-game content has not been affected by this removal.
This decision originated with the blowback to Battlefront II‘s loot boxes which allows players to spend money on the chance of receiving gameplay boosting bonuses that gave an unfair advantage over those unwilling or unable to spend money. While EA removed the paid option hours before its launch due to this blow back but European courts began to investigate and determine whether or not paid loot boxes, which allow players to pay for the chance of getting something they desire, was gambling. Blizzard has already been forced to remove this option from Chinese players due to their gambling laws. Not many other countires have made a similar decision, with the UK ruling loot boxes are not legally gambling.
In April 2018, the Belgian Gaming Commission published a report that was endorsed by the Belgian Ministry of Justice in which they concluded that paid loot boxes in Overwatch are considered gambling under local law. While we at Blizzard were surprised by this conclusion and do not share the same opinion, we have decided to comply with their interpretation of Belgian law. As a result, we have no choice but to implement measures that will prevent Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm players located in Belgium from purchasing in-game loot boxes and loot chests with real money and gems.