Players in Belgium and the Netherlands have begun to learn that upcoming Blizzard Entertainment mobile game Diablo Immortal won't be released in their countries due to strict local laws about in-game loot boxes.
Activision Blizzard has not made any public announcement about this news, but confirmation comes from Blizzard customer service representatives, who have informed players that "gambling restrictions" are preventing a full release in these two countries. "Unless gambling restrictions change, the game will not be released in the Netherlands and Belgium," one representative stated.
They also made clear that if players in these countries try to access the game by other means, their accounts may be banned.
An Activision Blizzard communications representative confirmed these facts to Dutch news outlet Tweakers.
Belgium's laws on loot boxes are quite strict—if a player can purchase an in-game item, and said in-game item involves using chance to determine what the player receives, that's gambling. But the Netherlands laws are looser, only banning in-game loot boxes if their contents have economic value.
Blizzard has made no indication that items in Diablo Immortal can be resold for out-of-game currency. In 2019, Psyonix ended the use of loot boxes in Rocket League in the Netherlands and Belgium over the same sets of laws, indicating that an abundance of caution may outweigh the literal economic value of items inside the loot box.
Belgium's loot box laws have already sent large publishers like Nintendo packing from the country, and it isn't the only country pushing back on the in-app spending model. In 2020, U.K. officials announced their intent to classify loot boxes as "gambling," though those regulations have yet to take effect. U.S. legislators from both sides of the aisle have also pushed for loot box legislation, though no progress has been made on passing any bill on the subject.