Nintendo's Belgium arm tweeted an announcedearly this morning that the company will be pulling its mobile games Fire Emblem Heroesand Animal Crossing: Pocket Campfrom the Belgian market on August 27th. Back in April of 2018, Belgium declared that loot boxes are gambling and thus illegal in the country, so it would seem Nintendo has seen the writing on the wall and decided to pull any offending games.
Vanwege de huidige onduidelijke situatie in België omtrent bepaalde verdienmodellen van games, zal de service voor Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp en Fire Emblem Heroes op 27 augustus 2019 in België worden stopgezet. https://t.co/8xvDHr0zkO
— Nintendo België (@NintendoBE_NL) May 21, 2019
The above tweet clearly states ( once translated) that both Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will no longer be available in Belgium after August 27th, 2019. The tweet also links to a longer statement on Nintendo's Belgian websitethat details any remaining currency (such as Orbs or Leaf Tickets) will have to be used before the noted removal date of these two games. This longer statement also makes it clear that any future Nintendo titles that contain similar earning models will not be released in Belgium.
As consumer resentment for abusive monetization practices in video games grows across the world, you'd think Nintendo would be a little more eager to fix the offensive revenue streams in Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp instead of taking its ball and going home. Screwing over Belgian players that have invested in either game does not make for a good look. Of course, it's more than likely that both of Nintendo's soon to be pulled titles were created in such a way that removing their loot boxes would most likely ruin the core gameplay loop, which just goes to show how abusive these games really are. Sure, there are worse offenders out there, but this is Nintendo we are talking about, a company that has sown a family-friendly imagine longer than most of us have been alive.
It would seem more and more countries are starting to realize that loot boxes are actually thinly veiled gambling, including the US, so you have to wonder how much longer it's going to be acceptable to release games with this sort of monetization. It would seem Nintendo is at least semi-aware that aggressive revenue streams could ruin its brand image, though the wording in today's announcement surely signals similarly monetized titles are forthcoming, which is actually a little worrying since the closed beta test for Mario Kart Tour starts tomorrow.