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Star Wars Battlefront II: Video Game? Gambling? Both?

The latest instalment in Electronic Arts’ (EA) Star Wars Battlefront video game series is under fire from Belgian authorities, who consider its ‘loot boxes’ to be a breach of gambling laws.

The game is the fourth major instalment of the Star Wars: Battlefront series and seventh overall. The game debuted worldwide on Nov. 17, 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.

However, its ‘loot boxes’ – which give gamers significant gameplay advantages through excessive game play or by forking out money – are now being investigated by Belgium’s gambling authority.

This is because even when a gamer pays additional money to purchase a loot box (which, for example, could give them the ability to play as main characters Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader), there is still a possibility the customer could be left frustrated due to the randomised contents of the loot boxes.

What is the Belgian gambling authorities’ reasoning?

Belgium’s gambling authorities consider this to be a form of gambling, particularly one that is arguably aimed at children.

According to Dutch-language publication VTM Nieuws, authorities say purchasable add-on or ‘loot’ boxes with randomised contents mix “money and addiction”, and are therefore a form of gambling.

Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens said:

“Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.”

Belgium is now set to work its way through the European Union’s process in order to achieve a complete ban of this style of game add-on. It’s not the only place to take action against EA though.

Hawaii also calls out EA

The state of Hawaii also denounced EA for its “predatory behaviour”. Hawaii’s Rep. Chris Lee appears in this video describing Battlefront II as a a “Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money”.

He is now proposing that new legislation in Hawaii should prohibit the sale of games containing loot boxes to minors. He hopes the state-level change could influence other US states and countries to follow suit.

Lee took to Reddit, saying:

“While we are stepping up to act in Hawaii, we have also been in discussions with our counterparts in a number of other states who are also considering how to address this issue. Change is difficult at the federal level, but states can and are taking action.”

EA’s community team recently responded to criticism on Reddit too. However, that plan backfired drastically. The topic became the most downvoted comment in the site’s history. EA then temporarily removed micro-transactions from the game until a later date.

There is a widespread been a backlash to Battlefront II’s release so far. The game received mixed reviews from critics upon its release.

Photo by Lauren Elisabeth / Shutterstock.com

Jack Stanton
- Jack Stanton is a freelance journalist and marketing copywriter, specialising in the world of poker and online gaming. Jack's work has appeared on VICE, The Guardian, The Drum, PokerStars Blog, PocketFives, BLUFF Europe and more. As a live poker reporter, Jack has covered events in locations as far afield as the Bahamas, Chile, South Korea, Brazil, and all across Europe.