Diablo Immortal will NOT Release in the Netherlands and Belgium, as Loot Boxes Violates Gambling Restrictions

Diablo Immortal will NOT Release in the Netherlands and Belgium, as Loot Boxes Violates Gambling Restrictions

Diablo Immortal is set for a global launch for mobile devices on June 2, with the exception of the Netherlands and Belgium due to the “current operating conditions in these countries.” The loot boxes in the upcoming mobile Diablo game contravene with the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) gambling restrictions, which has investigated the microtransactions of several video games in the past. 

According to Tweakers, a Dutch news outlet, a communications manager at Activision Blizzard Benelux confirmed this news, as well as reporting that pre-registration ahead of the mobile game’s launch was removed. On the Diablo Immortalsubreddit, a message from a Blizzard support agent was shared by a user revealing the reason. “Unfortunately players in the Netherlands and Belgium will not be able to install Diablo Immortal due to the countries’ gambling restrictions,” it says. “The 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.” The message further warned against a possible ban if the user tried to “download the game in another country like France.” 

With the removal of the game from the Netherlands and Belgium, fans in those regions are left frustrated. This is not the first time Blizzard has run into controversy due to its microtransactions, as fans have expressed concerns that the game will be pay to win. In a February blog post, the publisher reevaluated some of these concerns. “Purchases in our game are completely optional and should not detract from your gameplay experience.” Game Director Wyatt Cheng wrote. Since Blizzard has decided to outright ban their game from these countries, it points to speculation that Blizzard is prioritizing their money grab. 

In April 2018, video game loot boxes were declared to be “in violation of gambling legislation” according to a report by the BBC. Loot boxes give random rewards and can be acquired through regular gameplay or real money. Other games that had been subjected to the game restrictions have protected themselves from fines by either removing their loot boxes for players in Belgium or were not sold there at all. One example is seen with EA announcing in 2019 that it would no longer sell FIFA Points in Belgium for real money. In a statement, EA confirmed their compliance but claimed to “not agree with Belgian authorities’ interpretation of the law.” Unlike with Diablo Immortal, EA went around this law in order to keep its game available to fans. “We strongly believe that our games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world, and take these responsibilities very seriously,” a spokesperson with EA Sports responded, according to a report done by gamesindustry.biz. 

In the same year, Blizzard had announced that paid loot boxes will be removed from Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm. “While we at Blizzard were surprised by this conclusion and do not share the same opinion, we have decided to comply with their interpretation of Belgian law,” the company had stated. “As a result, we have no choice but to implement measures that will prevent Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm players located in Belgium from purchasing in-game loot boxes and loot chests with real money and gems”. This opinion appears to stand, though will not be circumvented as Diablo Immortal remains blocked from Belgium and the Netherlands within less than a week of its launch date. 

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