Diablo Immortal is closing in on its worldwide launch, but thanks to loot box laws, Belgium and the Netherlands won't be joining in.
Releasing on Thursday, June 2, for PC and mobile, Diablo Immortal has fallen foul of local gambling laws which prohibit loot boxes. Originally available to pre-load in both countries, the functionality was quietly removed several days later alongside news that the game won't be available in either country.
First reported by Dutch news site Tweakers (opens in new tab), a communications manager at Activision Blizzard confirmed the news, citing "the current operating conditions in these countries." Following this, a more explicit message posted on Diablo Immortal's subreddit (opens in new tab) soon emerged from a Blizzard Gamemaster, which confirmed Immortal would skip both European countries due to loot boxes.
“The loot boxes in the game are against the law in your country, So unless the gambling restrictions change, the game will not be released in the Netherlands and Belgium,” explains Gamemaster Gronnfindel. Furthermore, Gronnfindel then explains that attempting to evade this restriction could lead to an account ban from Blizzard.
for_the_people_wondering_about_belgium_the from r/DiabloImmortal
Not the first time this has happened
This isn't the first time Activision Blizzard has changed its plans in Belgium. Back in 2018, the publisher stopped selling loot boxes in the country following a ruling from the Belgian Gaming Commission that said loot boxes in gaming breached various gambling laws in the country.
Activision Blizzard isn't the only publisher that's had trouble with these restrictions in Belgium, either. EA notably ran into legal trouble in the Netherlands over its use of gambling mechanics in FIFA Ultimate Team. Fined €10m (£10.7m / £8.5m / $14.9m AUD) in October 2020 by the Court of The Hague, EA appealed and successfully overturned this decision last March.
While other companies instead opt to disable features related to in-game microtransactions, Blizzard seems unwilling to bend in this instance. Whether that'll change in the future seems unlikely, as things currently stand. Diablo Immortal looks like it'll be much more than just mobile Diablo 3, so if you're a series fan in either country, this is undeniably disappointing news.