Governments across the world are calling for a ban on loot boxes, as Battlefront II is described as, ‘a Star Wars-themed online casino’.
The news for EA and Star Wars: Battlefront II just gets worse and worse, with the Belgium Gaming Commission concluding that loot boxes are gambling after all.
Belgium’s Minister of Justice Koen Geens added: ‘Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.’
Geens apparently wants to ban in-game purchases completely in Belgium and has implied he will try to make it law across the European Union.
That will undoubtedly take time though, so it’s unclear what, if anything, will happen in the short term.
As revealed last week, the Netherlands also has its own investigation underway, with the French government hinting they may do the same too.
But it’s not just European countries that are up in arms, and Hawaii State Representative and Chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee Chris Lee has also spoken out about EA’s ‘predatory’ practices.
He even made the video above about the issue, and managed to quote Admiral Ackbar’s famous ‘it’s a trap’ line from Return of the Jedi.
‘This game is a Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money – it’s a trap’, he said. ‘This is something we need to address to ensure that particularly kids who are underage, who are not psychologically and emotionally mature enough to be able to gamble are protected from being trapped into these cycles which have compelled many folks to spend thousands of dollars in gaming fees online.’
Lee wants to stop the selling of loot boxes to children, and has already been talking to politicians in other American states in order to coordinate plans for new legislation. How exactly this would work though is unclear, especially as in America the legal age for gambling is between 18 and 21.
This implies that there would simply be a blanket ban on loot boxes, although we’re not sure how many gamers would be upset about that.
To be fair to Lee, not only does he know his Star Wars quotes, but he seems to have an unusually firm grasp of the issues for a politician. As does fellow Democratic Sean Quinlan, who had the following to say about the situation:
‘One of the things that’s really disturbing about this, to me, is this was previously a business practice that was mostly seen in the mobile gaming market and now it’s moved into the main event’.
‘This is a triple-A title that’s been released by the world’s largest gaming studio, and it has the most popular intellectual property in the world attached to it, and it’s marketed squarely at children.
‘Some of you folks who are older may remember a character called Joe Camel. He’s not around any more. We didn’t allow Joe Camel to encourage your kids to smoke cigarettes and we shouldn’t allow Star Wars to encourage your kids to gamble.’
It’s hard to argue with any of that, and while there might not be any new legislation in time to affect Battlefront II you can bet that publishers around the world are scrambling to rethink their loot box plans before they become public enemy number one.