Overwatch players in Belgium are no longer able to buy loot boxes in-game. In April, the Belgian Gaming Commission declared that loot boxes are considered gambling under the country’s local law. The decision required video game developers to remove paid loot boxes from their games.
Blizzard posted on the Overwatch forum earlier today that it’s “implement[ing] measures” to prevent Belgian Overwatch players from purchasing loot boxes. A similar update will be issued “shortly” for Heroes of the Storm. Players in the country can no longer use real money to purchase Overwatch’s loot boxes and Heroes of the Storm’s loot chests, and will only be able to earn them through in-game progress.
“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,” a Blizzard spokesperson wrote on the Overwatch forum. “No matter what, we want to make sure that our players around the world have the best entertainment experience possible.”
All regular in-game content will continue to be available to Overwatch players in Belgium. The spokesperson noted that the measures will be implemented “shortly.” “We also remain open to further discussions with the Belgian Gaming Commission and Ministry of Justice on this topic,” the spokesperson wrote.
The Belgian Gaming Commission noted in a May report that “criminal prosecution” will be considered against games that do not heed the Belgian rules.
“We are going to take all prepatory measures for the drafting of police reports, but it’s not going to be tomorrow,” Belgian Gaming Commission director Peter Naessens told GamesIndustry.biz. “There is a certain amount of time for the minister of justice, but it’s not unlimited.”
Blizzard will not be targeted by criminal prosecutors in Belgium since it disabled paid loot boxes. The developer will likely continue to fight Belgium’s decision to ban loot boxes.