Apple sued for loot boxes in App Store games

Apple sued for loot boxes in App Store games

Apple is the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the United States for its "predatory practices" favoring loot boxes in App Store games.

It is the Apple Insider site that relayed the information this weekend that Apple has been sued after the filing of a class-action lawsuit, filed in California, which mainly attacks the presence of loot boxes in the games in the App Store catalog.

A veritable scourge of mobile gaming, loot boxes are the bastard offspring of the freemium model, a business that is almost indispensable in a mobile gaming market where players are used to downloading their applications for free in exchange for exposure to advertising. But because there is always a need to earn more, the video gaming industry introduced the concept of loot boxes.

This game mechanic consists of making you buy packs or virtual and random reward prizes. It has been the subject of much debate, particularly in 2017, on the question of its morality and the very strong - very, very strong - resemblance to gambling.

Debates that have led to the EU, failing to recognize that this is gambling and to ban this practice as in Belgium, has changed the system of the App Store.me PEGI (the European system of evaluation of the video games) by imposing a mention on the cover of a game warning consumers on the presence of integrated and random purchases.

Predatory practices: Apple's crowning glory

Apple is known to have the strictest, and sometimes abusive, policy for third-party application developers. Cupertino has even set itself up as a paragon of mobile gaming morality by modifying its App Store terms of use at the end of 2017, obliging developers to clearly announce what types of objects contain loot boxes in their applications.

Apple has also put a layer back on with the launch of Apple Arcade in September 2019, a paid service of guaranteed mobile games without ads or microtransactions. It's therefore a great thing for Apple that its App Store has become the scapegoat for video gaming moralists.

And yet, the California giant is accused in this lawsuit  of "engaging in predatory practices" and promoting gambling. It is here the random nature of the loot boxes that is pointed out, as well as their addictive potential on younger gamers.

Note that one of the applicants mentions the case of her son who used her bank card without her knowledge to pay for purchases in-app up to $30. A derisory sum for some which could cost much more if the American justice system decides in favor of the plaintiffs.

Mario Kart Tour, Call of Duty: Mobile and many other mobile games (also found on the Google Play Store) are full of microtransactions and random in-app purchases. Some games, like Call of Duty, play the card of false transparency by displaying the percentage of chances you have to get a reward.

But everything is done to encourage the player to continue to pay to finally reach a sum far greater than what he or she would have agreed to pay for the game itself. This case will have to be followed closely, as the lobbying in support of the loot boxes is very powerful.

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