Diablo Immortal (opens in new tab) arrives later this week on mobile devices and, somewhat unexpectedly, PC, in an open beta that was revealed in April (opens in new tab). Unless you like in Belgium or the Netherlands, that is, in which case you won’t have access to the game—legitimately, at least.
The problem appears to be related to loot boxes, and specifically laws against them in those countries. Dutch gaming site Tweakers (opens in new tab) (via Google Translate (opens in new tab)) reported that a few days after Diablo Immortal pre-registration went live in the App Store and Google Play, it was disabled in Belgium and the Netherlands. An Activision Blizzard rep told the site that the removal was “related to the current operating conditions for games in those countries.”
The matter was further clarified by a message shared on the Diablo Immortal subreddit (opens in new tab), purportedly from a Blizzard support agent. “Unfortunately players in the Netherlands and Belgium will not be able to install Diablo Immortal due to the countries’ gambling restrictions,” it says. “The loot boxes in the game are against the law in your country, so unless gambling restrictions change the game will not be released in the Netherlands and Belgium.”
The message also warns that it’s illegal for citizens of Belgium and the Netherlands to download the game from a different country, and even if you don’t get busted for your scofflaw ways, you might get banned—although “in similar situations in the past where RNG loot boxes were against the law in certain countries we did not ban any players for it,” the rep added.
Belgium and the Netherlands have taken much stronger stances against loot boxes in videogames than most other countries. In 2018, Valve disabled the ability to open CS:GO cases (opens in new tab) in order to stay in compliance with gambling regulations in those countries, and not long after that Blizzard removed paid loot boxes from Overwatch (opens in new tab) and Heroes of the Storm in Belgium. In 2020, Electronic Arts was hit with a €10 million ($10.8 million) fine (opens in new tab) over FIFA loot boxes in the Netherlands, although that decision was overturned (opens in new tab) earlier this year. I’ve reached out to Activision Blizzard for more information and will update if I receive a reply.
Thanks, GamesIndustry (opens in new tab).