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Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp To Stop Service In Belgium August 27

by Donald Theriault - May 21, 2019, 5:54 am PDT
Total comments: 9 Source: Reddit

"Oh, I'll just play another Nintendo phone game." "Yeah, about that..."

Legislation has struck down two of Nintendo's mobile projects in Belgium and put others on hold.

Announcements were sent to affected players of Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp this morning announcing that service for the games would end on August 27. Belgium law introduced in the wake of the initial release of Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) was cited in the decision.

The legislation concerns gambling and how video game lootboxes fall under the definition, which focuses on four items: a game element, the possibility of gain or loss, and random chance. Other games have removed the option to buy premium currency, including EA's FIFA series disabling the ability to purchase Ultimate Team packs.

Super Mario Run will remain available for sale in Belgium, while Dragalia Lost was never made available there. There has been no word on how this will affect Nintendo's upcoming Mario Kart Tour and Dr. Mario World projects.

Image courtesy of Reddit user RazorCatGaming.

Talkback

StratosMay 21, 2019

I'm all for removing these gambling elements from games, but I'm not sure banning them is the best way for it to be done. I'm hoping we find a happy medium where developers can profit from games without being exploitative. Games like Overwatch and Fortnight seem to have a good model going, and I will always love Nintendo for selling Mario Run for a flat $10 (it was worth it for me, its one of the highest quality mobile games out there).

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorMay 21, 2019

I mean, the games aren't banned, per say - Nintendo is voluntarily removing them instead of making changes in line with what you suggest.

nickmitchMay 21, 2019

The "gambling" elements are banned, which is I think what he's saying.

I don't know how big of a gaming market Belgium is, but it'll be interesting to see how this plays out in other areas. UK shot it down, and there's some new interest in a ban brewing in the US.

Belgium's total population is only about 11 million people, so it seems pretty easy to just write them off as a market. For this to change how companies do business these laws are going to have to get a lot more widespread.

StratosMay 21, 2019

Yeah, I am talking about the gambling elements. All of these different monetizing methods are at their core attempts by devs and publishers to bring in a profit. The cost of a traditional videogame has been locked at $60 since ~2005 when the game industry raised the collective MSRP from $50 to $60 (save for Nintendo who stuck with $50 through the Wii's life).

$50 had been in place since the late 90's when they all agreed of a standard, before that it was a lawless wasteland where games ranged from $20-$80 depending on publisher, tech used, and store pricing. With most other goods and services, prices have gone up with inflation, but game prices tend to stay the same. This is also not speaking of the mobile space, where even $0.99 is considered too much for a game and there has to be some way to monetize a game that is cheap-as-free.

Because consumers have recoiled at raising prices, devs had to come up with other creative ways to bring in extra cash from DLC to micro transactions to special editions, to subscriptions. But it is clear that certain models have become more lucrative than they deserve and devs are taking advantage of human's addictive natures to profit.

It starts with a small country like Belgium, but it sets a precedent and once one person does something it can be easier for others to adopt, especially in Europe where the EU can catch on to something and spread it more rapidly.

If devs don't come up with acceptable methods to monetize, they could be forced to do it via laws and that may severely limit their options for how to do it.

EnnerMay 22, 2019

Down with a degenerate system birthed by Bad Civilization!

Outside of Japanese-developed mobile games, you do see other monetization models that don't rely on slot machines (or don't allow you to pay in to it directly). You got your battle passes made popular by Fortnite, to making most of the money through costumes rather than any thing that affects the numbers (Azur Lane and Girls Frontline come to mind for me).

FEH and AC:PC could have been changed to allow direct transactions for heroes and furniture. Or, at the least, micro-transactions could have been disabled so players in Belgium can at least enjoy the game through the free currency that is given through log ins and achievements. Alas, no.

StratosMay 22, 2019

Quote from: Enner

FEH and AC:PC could have been changed to allow direct transactions for heroes and furniture. Or, at the least, micro-transactions could have been disabled so players in Belgium can at least enjoy the game through the free currency that is given through log ins and achievements. Alas, no.

Without those micro-transactions the only other way to turn a profit is with the sale of data-mined customer info, and I have a feeling Nintendo isn't doing that the way we know some other app devs are doing. Nintendo does view their mobile apps as support for their main games, but that alone wouldn't justify the continued development and support of it without any income coming in directly.

Also this guarantees Belgium won't see Mario Kart GP since that has micro transactions (gotta pay for 'gas' or energy according to beta test reports, also features loot boxes).

nickmitchMay 22, 2019

Pokemon Go does a really good job of monetizing without lootboxes.  You don't need to spend any money to advance in the game, just to advance faster.  I'm hoping more games take that approach than the lootbox route.

I can't speak for Pocket Camp, but the fact that Heroes uses a worldwide server means they'd have to spin up a separate server for Belgium... and with no money coming in, what would be the point?

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