Belgium and the Netherlands are the two countries in the world that have recognised loot boxes as gambling, and therefore illegal in video games. Electronic Arts tried taking the fight to court to defend its extremely lucrative source of revenue in the former, before ultimately giving up. The classification of loot boxes as gambling will also reportedly lead to the upcoming Diablo Immortal unavailable in both countries.
Dutch gaming site Tweakers first reported that the Diablo Immortal pre-registration was disabled in Belgium and the Netherlands. An Activision Blizzard representative said that the removal was “related to the current operating conditions for games” in both countries. Which is a weird and vague statement, but those who pay attention to the video games scene may be able to connect the dots.
There’s also a message that came from someone who appears to be with the Blizzard Support team. Shared on Reddit by u/Evoratus, the message states that players in both Belgium and the Netherlands will not be able to install Diablo Immortal due to gambling restrictions that are in place. More explicitly, the message goes on to say that “loot boxes in the game are against the law in your country, so unless gambling restrictions change the game will not be released in the Netherlands and Belgium.
If the message is genuine, this is effectively confirmation that Diablo Immortal will contain loot boxes. Not exactly surprising since it’s a mobile-first free-to-play title that only much later got a surprise PC port. Being free-to-play, loot boxes are the most common and likely most lucrative form of monetisation.
This entire Diablo Immortal situation is unfortunate in two ways. One is that gamers in Belgium and the Netherlands will not be able to get access to the game. The other is that players elsewhere will be subjected to the loot box mechanic.