Belgian Minister Of Justice Wants To Forbid Gambling In Videogames

Translation of Dutch article from Belgian TV network:

Belgian Minister of Justice wants to forbid in-game purchases, if you do not know what the purchase entails exactly. “Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at that age, is dangerous for the mental health of a child”

The fuss started last week around the new game Star Wars: Battlefront II. In it you could buy so-called ‘lootcrates’, virtual boxes which could give you certain benefits in the game. Only, you didn’t know in advance what is in the box.

“Mixing money and addiction, is gambling”, judged the Gaming Commission then. VTM NEWS brought the news and a few days later the games creator, Electronic Arts, removed the option from the game. Among other reasons: the critique from Disney, which has the rights to the Star Wars-merchandising.

Geens want to prevent such features to be able to be present in games. “But it will require time, as we have to take this to the Europe-stage. We are definitely going to try and forbid this”

Our take: On one side it’s a good thing that they want to enforce new legaslisation to protect younger children from getting addicted to gambling. But real money isn’t the only way you can get addicted to a game: if a game lets you get any kind of random content, one could make a case for that to be addictive already. After all, it’s easy to get into the “one more” mindset, in hopes to get a better reward the next time.

I also made a case for how this could affect an entire category of games, namely Trading Card Games like Hearthstone and Magic The gathering. (Read it here)

We’ve also just heard that the State of Hawaii is also looking into this, so it seems the political standpoint of being against it is popular enough that more politicians are following suit (most likely in hopes of getting some media attention). The consequences could be big for the gaming industry, which is trying to find a way to increase revenue from videogames without increasing the asking price for a game.

It’ll be interesting to see where this leads. And how publishers and developers are going to face this conundrum in the future now that both the law and their own audience have publically opposed the idea.

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