Diablo Immortal Won’t Launch in the Netherlands and Belgium Because of Loot Boxes

  • Loot boxes are a feature in video games that have elements that are akin to gambling
  • There is hope that a version of the game without loot boxes will be available in the future
  • Belgium and the Netherlands have strict laws regarding loot boxes in video games
  • The main market for the game is Asia, where there are minimal laws regarding loot boxes
Diablo Immortal title screen on a phone
Diablo Immortal is not going to be available in the Netherlands and Belgium because the game contains loot box mechanics. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Disappointment for some players

Diablo Immortal, a highly anticipated video game that releases on Thursday, looks like it will not be permitted to launch in two jurisdictions. According to reports, the game will not be initially available in Belgium or the Netherlands as it contains loot boxes. There is hope that at some point in the future, the game can launch in these countries without the loot box elements.

seen to be akin to gambling in many regions

Loot boxes are a prevalent feature in video games that give players the chance to acquire in-game items. The issue with loot boxes is that they are seen to be akin to gambling in many regions, as there what appears in the boxes is randomized, based on preset probabilities for different types of items. Very often, people can and do use real money in order to purchase these loot boxes. 

In violation of gambling laws

It was a community manager for Activision Blizzard, the game’s developer, who confirmed that Diablo Immortal would not be available in the two countries as a result of “the current operating conditions” in these regions. Said operating conditions relate to the respective gambling laws in Belgium and the Netherlands. 

both countries have strict laws in place regarding video games that offer loot boxes

Initially, Diablo Immortal was to be rolled out in the two countries, but beta signups were eventually removed. Both countries have strict laws in place regarding video games that offer loot boxes, which has led to major video game companies like Konami and Electronic Arts (EA) removing games from these markets. In one instance, EA was fined €10m ($10.7m) in the Netherlands in 2018 regarding loot boxes in its popular FIFA soccer game. The fine was overturned earlier in 2022.

Target market

The initial target market while Diablo Immortal was still in development was Asia, which has looser loot box regulations than does Europe. These features are a core part of most of the popular games in the region. 

Diablo Immortal, part of the long-running Diablo seriers, is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online action role-playing game (MMORPG), mainly for mobile devices.

It is still unclear as to the exact structure of the loot box elements in the upcoming game. Blizzard is one of the last remaining major video game companies that continues to heavily focus on loot box sales across the western world.