“Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (“CS:GO”) players in two countries can no longer open loot boxes after installing a new update from Valve, according to the publisher and developer’s update release notes.
Under the miscellaneous section of Wednesday’s update release notes is a statement that “customers in Netherlands and Belgium will be restricted from opening containers.”
Containers, in this case, refers to loot boxes, which contain randomized in-game items. Whether or not loot boxes can cause an addictive or compulsive desire to keep purchasing them was at the core of the concern for some countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, which resulted in the research of the effect of loot boxes on gamers.
In Belgium, it was determined in May that loot boxes do constitute gambling, but the government has not yet pursued prosecution against top offenders, which include Valve as well as Activision Blizzard and EA. Perhaps Valve decided to preemptively disable loot boxes in Belgium in order to avoid prosecution.
A study by the government of the Netherlands on loot boxes declared that “loot boxes do not contravene the law if the in-game goods from the loot boxes are not transferable.” Because the loot boxes’ contents in “CS:GO” were being traded, the boxes were determined to contravene the Netherlands’ Betting and Gaming Act.
Last month, Dutch players of “CS:GO” and “DOTA 2” were upset by the sudden restriction in trading of items and marketplace purchases. The decision came after it was found that users were selling items obtained from loot boxes for actual currency, which at times reached the equivalent of thousands of U.S. dollars for rare in-game items. Valve made the decision to shut down trading in June with a message to “CS:GO” and “DOTA 2” players that they would attempt to “find a solution that is less inconvenient.”
Another note on Wednesday’s release states, “Steam Trading and Steam Market features are now re-enabled for Steam accounts in Netherlands.” So it would appear that trading is now allowed for Dutch customers, and the best solution determined to be restricting loot boxes, instead.
Valve did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.