ArenaNet has faced criticism over the past week for its seemingly pre-emptive decision to remove Belgian players’ ability to purchase its real-money currency (Gems) for Guild Wars 2. In a brief statement on Tuesday, the developer said that the change was made to comply with changes to Belgian law.
Earlier today, ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray posted another statement to the forums, stating that it was once again possible for Belgian players to buy Gems, while certain purchases pertaining to Black Lion Chests and other randomized loot, were disabled. Here’s the full statement:
We recently disabled Gem purchases for players located in Belgium. This action was in response to the Belgian Gaming Commission’s declaration that paid loot boxes violate Belgium’s gambling restrictions. We have now implemented a more refined system, which only restricts the purchase of loot boxes and related items, such as chest keys, dye kits, and certain packs by players located in Belgium. For players located in Belgium, you will see the following message when viewing these items “This item is not available for purchase in your region.” All other items and purchases are now available. Please read our FAQ on the subject here.
We appreciate your patience as we worked to comply with the Belgian Gaming Commission’s restrictions.
The FAQ simply re-iterates the above statement, while clarifying that Black Lion Keys already owned by players will function as normal, while Keys and Chests will still drop in-game as they always have.
It’s still a little odd that ArenaNet would take this action without being targeted specifically by the Belgian Gaming Commission for its loot box practices. We’re not aware of any other game that’s done so (if you are, please let us know), including games made by ArenaNet’s parent company, NCSoft, so we’ll just have to assume that it was done to stay way, way ahead of the legal curve.
Whatever the reason — and irksome as it was that it took so long for this policy to be formally stated and implemented — I have to give ArenaNet credit for not playing the victim and sounding “confused” or “disappointed” by what’s happening in Belgium. That puts them a notch ahead of Valve and Blizzard, at least.