You may recall that last year, the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) released a report in which it concluded that “the purchase of loot boxes by players […] is highly problematic” and subsequently banned their sales in Belgium, a decision which has apparently ruffled the feathers of some industry professionals. Specifically, the Flemish Gaming Association (FLEGA) has taken issue with Belgium’s loot-box ban, claiming that it’s unfair.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, FLEGA spokesman David Verbruggen said, “I just don’t think it’s fair… The public perception now is that a lot of politicians and people think that every video game is some form of gambling, and that is not really what is happening.” Verbuggen goes on to argue that the BGC’s motivations in banning loot-box sales are less than altruistic:
“Then we’re asking ourselves, ‘Why?’ What does the commission want to achieve? Do they want more money for their operations? Do they want to fund the state treasure chest? It’s also about taxation. It’s about gambling licenses. It’s about money. You will have to pay the gambling commission to be able to continue to do paid lootboxes.”
According to Verbruggen, FLEGA was also rankled by the fact that the BGC didn’t allow industry stakeholders to weigh in on the issue and propose alternative solutions prior to banning loot boxes under Belgian gambling laws, although BGC Director Peter Naessens said in an e-mail to GamesIndustry.biz that industry stakeholders were indeed consulted and that “the report was presented to the commission members who ‘unanimously did support the content and conclusions.'”
Nevertheless, FLEGA believes that the industry itself should be responsible for regulating loot boxes — an opportunity that Verbruggen says was denied by the BGC: “When the report came out, we talked to the BGC and we said, as an industry we have to be responsible and have to maybe do more to help parents with these issues and protect minors, and we proposed a lot of things. They just said, ‘No, we’re going ahead with prosecution anyway.'”