Two Nintendo mobile games will soon no longer be available in Belgium as the game-maker moves to comply with local gambling laws.

The games industry has struggled to deal with loot boxes, and the subject has divided opinions. Loot boxes are items in games containing randomised content which can be bought with real money.

In 2018, Belgium outlawed games that used loot boxes to reward players with random items. The random-reward mechanic is an illegal form of gambling, the country’s gambling regulator says.

Nintendo said on its Belgian website that the decision was due to the “current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models.” Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes will no longer be playable after 27 August.

Both mobile games allow players to purchase loot boxes to buy rare gear, items or heroes to help players complete the game.

Both titles will now be considered to breach the ruling by Belgium’s gambling commission, which prohibits games from selling packs of randomly selected in-game items (loot boxes).

Nintendo has confirmed that any games it develops in the future containing loot boxes as a random reward for players will not be released in Belgium.

Nintendo’s decision follows similar action by Blizzard, Valve, and 2K, which also changed or removed games to make them comply with the decision.

Loot boxes have been linked to problem gambling and there have been calls for them to be banned. Only the Netherlands and Belgium have asserted any level of control in Europe concerning loot boxes, but most other countries in Europe and U.S. have left loot boxes alone.

The Netherlands made similar litigation about loot boxes before Belgium issued its ruling, so why both Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem Heroes are still available to play in the Netherlands is unclear.

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Steve Carman
Steve's two passions are journalism and gaming, and he enjoys playing Indies, RPG, and Action/Adventure games on PC and consoles. He can also often be found sharing his views on the industry @stevecgames.

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