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Back in 2018, Belgium became one of the first countries to mandate loot boxes as a form of gambling. Therefore, they are automatically banned from playing video games. However, the ruling now appears to be invalid, with loot boxes still appearing in 82% of the top mobile games.

This message comes from the loot box researcher Leon Y. Shaw, who found that the most successful mobile game developers were ignoring the ban. Shaw’s report noted that the ban simply gave consumers a “false sense of security” that needed to be addressed if the law was to be enforced as intended.

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“Loot boxes are still widely available among the 100 highest-grossing iPhone games in Belgium,” the report reads (thanks, “82% of games continue to generate revenue through random monetization methods, and 80.2% of games are rated as suitable for young adults 12+.”

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In concluding that the ban was “not effectively enforced,” the study also addressed the downsides of its failure to enforce it. This means, for example, that companies that do comply with the regulations are penalized for doing so and earn less than publishers who avoid them.

Therefore, Shaw suggested that regulators change their tactics, writing: “It is practically impossible to completely eliminate the loot box mechanism from a country.” He also drew attention to the fact that the ban is only part of existing gambling legislation and does not serve Loot boxes specifically make laws. This makes it impossible for gaming companies to obtain licenses to legally implement them.

Most importantly, despite threats to the contrary, authorities have not prosecuted the company for failing to comply with the loot ban. That means little has been done to stop mobile publishers.

“Belgium should reassess its regulatory status,” concluded Shaw. “A blanket ban approach to loot crate regulation cannot be recommended to other countries. Other less restrictive approaches to loot crate regulation should be considered”.

However, it’s worth noting that outside the mobile gaming market, the policy has had limited success and has prevented major companies from implementing loot boxes across all platforms. Recently, Activision Blizzard didn’t launch Diablo: Immortal in the country, and EA also removed it from the FIFA series. It’s still possible to get games like Diablo in the country, just if your region is set to Belgium. With the ban likely to spread to other European countries, combined pressure may be enough to finally see these laws enforced.

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