Diablo Immortal launches on June 2 for both mobile and PC. However, it doesn’t look as though everyone will get to try it out on release. It is being reported that Diablo Immortal has been blocked in Belgium and the Netherlands due to its loot boxes.
Both of these countries have strict laws regarding in-game purchases and microtransactions. In the Netherlands, loot boxes are recognized as gambling, and to sell gambling services you need a license that isn’t available for video game developers. As for Belgium, all loot box-based monetization systems are outright banned. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Previously it was possible to pre-register for access to these games through the Apple and Google app stores regardless of location. However, this is no longer the case for those that live in Belgium or the Netherlands. According to Tweakers’ report, Activision Blizzard confirmed that this was due to the game’s “current operating conditions.”
Given the unique gambling laws of those two countries, it’s fair to assume that loot boxes are the cause of Diablo Immortal’s ban. What this means for Immortal moving forward is unclear. Some developers opt to take out loot boxes in specific regions, which allows them to sell their game again. However, it isn’t unheard of to not adapt a game and deny access to those in specified regions. If Blizzard goes down this route, it would be a huge blow for Diablo fans who live in Belgium or the Netherlands.
Loot box decline
Go back five years and every AAA game came packaged with loot boxes. However, following the Star Wars Battlefront II controversy their popularity has declined. In more recent years we’ve seen the rise of battle passes and paid cosmetics. Even so, some publishers still value loot boxes and it’s no surprise given how profitable they can be.