Loot boxes are retreating across the Belgian front as Guild Wars 2 apparently becomes the latest game to axe sales of premium currency in the country, as reported by Gamasutra. While subscription-free (and free-to-play in general, if you don’t mind missing out on expansions), Arenanet’s successful MMORPG has always had loot boxes. The in-game premium shop offers keys to unlock randomly dropped boxes, as well as various random goodie bags. Those are now legally considered gambling, according to the Belgian Gaming Commission.
So far, Guild Wars 2 developers ArenaNet or publisher NCSoft have yet to make an official comment, but players in Belgium have been unable to buy Gems (the cash-shop currency) since September 19th. Sneaky players have been able to bypass the apparently Belgian-only block through the use of VPNs, but Belgium is no longer listed as a valid country for buying Gems in.
Guild Wars 2 is far from the first game to make cuts or restrictions in Belgium, with other high-profile games like Counter-Strike and Overwatch restricting the sales of loot boxes in the country. Whether this latest move was a preemptive decision or forced by authorities is unknown, but the end result is the same either way. The daft thing in this case is that there are plenty of non-gambling related items in GW2’s store, but rather than just restrict the sales of keys (or seek to remove randomised rewards globally), they’ve just axed an entire nation’s ability to pay.
Still, better to remove things from sale now and avoid trouble than follow the road EA seem to be going down. Despite demands by the Belgian Gaming Commission, the publisher have opted to keep selling packs of virtual football cards (which you can turn into footballers on the pitch) in FIFA 18 and 19, which may well land the company in court.