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Back in 2018, the Belgian Gaming Commission found that loot boxes were a form of gambling and recommended criminal proceedings against developers and publishers who implemented them in their games. However, a new study found that Belgium’s ban was not functionally enforced.

According to reports, Booty Scholar’s Research Leon Y. Xiao found the law to be unevenly implemented and ineffective. The study claims that 82% of the top-grossing iPhone games in Belgium have loot boxes installed. It went on to claim the ban gave parents and policymakers a “false sense of security”. Furthermore, the study highlights that the technical measures put in place to prevent the purchase of loot boxes in Belgium can easily be circumvented by savvy players. Shaw ended up recommending a less stringent but more thoughtfully enforced policy.

Belgian policy has indeed caused some wide-ranging changes in the country. After discussions with Belgian authorities, EA removed the virtual currency from FIFA games in the country. Nintendo stopped supporting Animal Crossing: Camp Pocket and Fire Emblem Heroes to prevent prosecution or regulation. However, Xiao’s research argues that the ban allows “non-compliant games to replace games that have been removed from the national market by more socially responsible companies”.

Other countries have investigated or introduced policies regarding loot boxes. Brazil launched an investigation into loot boxes last year. The UK recently encouraged the gaming industry to self-regulate following its own investigation. Big games like Overwatch 2 and Halo Infinite have dropped the monetization of loot boxes, even though they were included in their predecessors. Diablo sparked ongoing discussions about the link between free-to-play monetization and gambling.

The products discussed here have been independently selected by our editors. GameSpot may share revenue if you purchase any product on our site.

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