UPDATE 31/5/22: Activision Blizzard has now officially confirmed reports it has called off the release of Diablo Immortal in Belgium and the Netherlands.
“Diablo Immortal will not be available in Belgium or the Netherlands, and will not appear on Battle.net or the Belgian and Netherlands App or Google Play Stores,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Eurogamer this morning.
“This is related to the current operating environment for games in those countries. Accordingly, pre-registrations for the game are not accessible in those markets.”
ORIGINAL STORY 30/5/22:
This week’s long-awaited launch of Diablo Immortal has reportedly been scrapped in both Belgium or the Netherlands, due to the countries’ laws around loot boxes.
An Activision Blizzard Benelux communications manager confirmed the move to Dutch news site Tweakers, GamesIndustry.biz has reported, and cited “the current operating conditions in these countries”. Eurogamer has contacted Activision Blizzard here in the UK for comment.
Pre-registration for the game’s mobile launch and PC beta has also now been withdrawn in both countries, it’s been claimed.
Both Belgium and the Netherlands have historically taken a strict stance on games with loot box mechanics, most memorably with sales of Ultimate Team packs in FIFA.
Back in 2018, both the Netherlands and Belgium declared loot boxes were a form of gambling and therefore illegal. EA withdrew FIFA Points from sale the following year, though continued to fight a lengthy legal battle to get a €10m fine over its sale of FIFA loot boxes overturned.
Four years later, EA was ultimately successful, and the Dutch high court controversially overruled an earlier judgement to say EA had not broken the country’s gambling laws after all.
Still, it seems as if Blizzard is taking no chances.
An unverified email apparently from Blizzard Europe’s customer support team has also surfaced on reddit, which provides more detail.
“Unfortunately players in the Netherlands and Belgium will not be able to install Diablo: Immortal due to the countries’ gambling restrictions. The lootboxes in the game are against the law in your country, so unless the gambling restrictions change the game will not be released,” it reads.
“It would be illegal for you to download the game in another country like France. If you manage to run the game I cannot guarantee that you will not be banned for it.”
Diablo Immortal launches this Wednesday, 2nd June, for both mobile and PC via an open beta on Battle.net. Here in the UK, servers go online from 6pm BST.