Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes Will Shutdown in Belgium at End of August
Nintendo has announced that both Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes mobile games will shut down on August 27, 2019. The reason the games are leaving is because of the “current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models”. This is in relation to the relatively new stance that the country has taken on loot boxes.
In April 2018 the Belgian Gaming Commission analyzed a number of various games such as FIFA18 and Overwatch. They ultimately found that games with loot boxes violate Belgian gambling laws and banned their existence. Publishers who fail to comply “risk a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros”. In the instance that a situation involves a minor, the punishments are liable to double in severity.
Belgium is not alone in pursuing an end to gambling in video games. The Netherlands has a similar law prohibiting the inclusions of loot boxes and Hawaii banned games with loot boxes for those under 21. The intermingling of video games and gambling has troubled many other companies but they have not yet instituted strong measures.
Many game developers choose to merely remove loot boxes from the Belgian markets, not completely remove the game itself. Although the move is not completely without precedent. In November 2018, Square Enix was forced to remove three of their mobile games for including loot boxes.