Star Wars Battlefront II was released this week, and with it came further questions surrounding the game’s use of virtual ‘loot boxes’.
The game, created by California-based video gaming giants Electronic Arts (EA), has drew criticism for implementing these add-on boxes that must be purchased with real-life cash, and is now under investigation from the Belgian Gaming Commission.
Critics say that the real-life cash aspect constitutes a form of gambling, and the game’s age certificate should reflect this accordingly. It’s currently age rated at 16+.
Furthermore, the loot boxes found in Battlefront II are at the more extreme end of the spectrum, encouraging serious expenditure, with one computation estimating it would take at least 4528 hours of gameplay or $2,100 (£1585) to unlock all of its base content.
The Belgian Gaming Commission’s policy reads: “Games of chance cannot be compared to any other kind of economic services.
“They may cause people to become addicted to gambling and cause them to lose a great deal of money. For this reason, a number of protective measures have been implemented to protect players against these sorts of potential risks.”
However EA has strenuously opposed the idea that loot boxes constitute gambling. In a statement it said: “Creating a fair and fun game experience is of critical importance to EA. The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling.
“A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all. Once obtained, players are always guaranteed to receive content that can be used in game.”
It has been reported that the Dutch Gaming Authority has followed suit and is also investigating whether or not games with loot boxes should be considered gambling.