Whoever thought that loot boxes would cause so much trouble in the world of gaming? The boxes - used in games to randomly generate some form of loot like costumes or weapons - can either be earned slowly through XP grinding or purchased for money on just about any online gaming store. It's been a decision that has divided the games industry like nothing else in recent memory. 

EA's Star Wars Battlefront 2 debacle from last year was the start of a huge splash that's still affecting the games industry about six months later. No two countries are thinking exactly the same about how to approach potentially spending $50 only to get one legendary Overwatch skin, and how could they? Are loot boxes gambling? Are games companies taking advantage of paying consumers desperate for a new pumpy? It's such a delicate topic, but here are five countries taking steps to address this growing issue.  


Belgium 

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Some countries aren't beating around the bush when it comes to loot boxes. Belgium and their Gaming Commission determined that games with loot boxes, including Overwatch, Counterstrike: Global Offensive and FIFA 18 all violated the country's gambling laws and their publisher could see fines and even jail time if they're not removed. That's right, it's now considered a crime to both virtually camp in sniping spots and smash soccer balls into goals if you're also set to have loot boxes around.  


United States

How The Loot Box Controversy Is Affecting Countries Around The World

Gambling laws here in the states are tricky, to say the least, but more than a few states are putting their foot down on loot boxes. Minnesota legislation, in particular, has introduced a bill that would require any game with loot boxes to come with a warning for players under 18: "This game contains a gambling-like mechanism that may promote the development of a gaming disorder that increases the risk of harmful mental or physical health effects, and may expose the user to significant financial risk." 

California, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Indiana, and Washington state aren't far behind, either. Most of these bills haven't made much traction in these parts simply because the games industry is bringing in too much money for it to stop now. There's always profit to be had.    


China

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As opposed to the USA, China is far less conflicted about loot boxes. Ever since May of 2017, China's guidelines for them have been very clear: 

1. loot boxes cannot be acquired with real money or virtual currency;

2. virtual items and other services offered in loot boxes must be obtainable by other means, e.g., purchased with real money or virtual currency;

3. game publishers must in a timely manner, and truthfully, publicize information such as names, functions and quantity of virtual items or other services offered in loot boxes, as well as the probability of winning; and

4. loot box results must be publicly disclosed and their records must be kept by game publishers/operators for no less than 90 days."

Short. Sweet. To the point. And to prove that they're not messing around, game developer Freejam has taken loot boxes out of their game Robocraft in order to strike up a deal with publisher Tencent in order to bring the game over to China. 


South Korea 

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While the rest of the world is setting laws and bylines for the use of loot boxes, South Korea is taking action against companies who won't step into line. Developers Nexon Korea, NextFloor, and Netmarble were all sued for lying to gamers about the odds behind their loot boxes. Nexon had started a promotion event for their puzzle game Sudden Attack that featured loot boxes with puzzle pieces inside. A fan had spent 460,000 South Korean won in order to get all the puzzle pieces, not knowing that the likelihood of drawing one of the 16 needed was as low as 0.5 percent. 

All three companies received fines close to a million dollars, with Nexon coming in heftiest with 944 million South Korean won, with Nextmarble grabbing 60 million won in fees and Nextfloor receiving 5 million won in fees. I don't even have a joke for that, it's just crooked. 


UK/New Zealand 

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The rest of the world is taking stark stances on loot boxes as gambling, but the UK feels laxer than most. The UK Gambling Commission came to the conclusion that items from loot boxes "are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out," making them legal within Parliment's jurisdiction. New Zealand came to a similar conclusion, agreeing that loot boxes "do not meet the legal definition of gambling."