Loot boxes have been a fairly common topic of discussion during this generation of games. Generation 8, consisting of the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, has also been the rise of online games. A lot of these titles are free-to-play but consist of paid in-game items called microtransactions. These exist within randomized functions called “loot boxes.”
Essentially, players pay to open a loot box, which contains a randomized item for their in-game character. Sometimes it’s a great, rare item, but more commonly it is a bland item that most people don’t care for.
These loot boxes have their good and their bad sides. On one hand, all items are cosmetic so players who pay don’t have an advantage over those who don’t. Developers are able to host tournaments and pay their workers despite the game being free as well.
That said, some developers alter their titles and have them lean towards players buying into loot boxes. Others lock specific content behind these paid services. It’s a tough balance to maintain, and one that leads to unexpected consequences for some developers.
An Epic Lawsuit
In this case, the developers of Fortnite, Epic Games, are under a lawsuit by a California father. Named Steve Altes, and he claims that loot boxes (represented as Llamas within the game) are a “predatory scheme”. He goes on, stating that these microtransactions are “blind draws” similar to gambling. Only, through video games, these methods target children, reports GamesIndustry.biz.
Interestingly, Altes’ claim only focuses on the lesser known single-player version, Save The World. It ignores the globally popular battle-royale version of the game. He accuses Epic Games of designing this game mode to entice you to pay as you get further on:
“Players, and particularly minors, are lured into purchasing Llamas with the reasonable expectation that a purchase will result in better loot. Players are encouraged to keep purchasing Llamas with the reasonable belief that related purchase will lead to the change of receiving better loot and therefore improvement in performance of the game. Through both express misrepresentations and omissions, Epic markets Llamas as highly likely to contain valuable loot that will increase a player’s power and prowess in the Fortnite game. But in reality, Llamas do not contain the loot expected by the reasonable consumer.”
An Outdated Claim
He’s also accusing Epic Games of being in violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act. It’s also ignoring the False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law, while also “accusing them of unjust enrichment”. Altes hopes that this lawsuit will stop Epic from introducing more lootboxes, as well as making these microtransactions completely illegal. That, and he hopes Epic will refund the father for all of the money spent on these as well as fees and damages.
Filing through “R.A,” Altes also hopes that the group will represent anyone in California who wants to jump on their own case regarding Fortnite’s Save the World lootboxes.
GamesIndustry.biz also points out that while it was recent, Epic Games recently updated Fortnite to introduce the odds of each item you can get within a loot box. Now, when buying a llama, you can see your chances of getting the items rather than having them hidden as most other games do.
Over the past few years, more and more lawsuits have been introduced regarding the loot box phenomenon. Some of them result in simply showing the odds of getting items, while others ask that governmental entities ban loot boxes entirely. With the early state of these microtransactions, it’s still hard to declare if they’re legally gambling or not. Regardless, there’s no denying how these loot boxes appeal to children, and how they can instill negative habits within the growing bodies.Epic Games Being Sued Over Fortnite Loot Boxes