Apple sued for allowing loot boxes in App Store

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2020
Apple on Friday was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit targeting loot boxes in games and apps, a mechanism typically characterized by in-app purchases that present buyers with randomized digital rewards.

FIFA


A complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleges Apple is complicit in promoting gambling and addictive behavior by allowing developers to market apps and games with loot boxes on the App Store.

"Not unlike Big Tobacco's Joe Camel' advertising campaign, Apple relies on creating addictive behaviors in kids to generate huge profits for the Company," the complaint reads. "Over the last four years Defendant's App Store games have brought in billions of dollars, even though the vast majority of the games are free to download."

Loot boxes are broadly defined as in-app purchases that grant users rewards, boosts, costumes, skins, weapons, or other special items. Popular in games, loot boxes provide a randomized chance to gain premium items, a mechanic that some closely associate with gambling. Indeed, real money is spent to obtain these special goods, sometimes through an in-game currency system.

Apple is being targeted by the complaint because it profits from in-app purchases.

"A large percentage of Apple's revenues from App Store games come from the in-game purchases of what are known in the gaming industry as loot boxes' or loot crates,'" the lawsuit alleges. "Dozens (if not hundreds) of App Store games rely on some form of Loot Box or similar gambling mechanism to generate billions of dollars, much of it from kids."

Named plaintiff Rebecca Taylor claims her son, "C.T.," spent at least $25 in iTunes gift cards and his parents' money on loot boxes for Supercell's Brawl Stars. C.T. continues to have access to the iPhone and iPad on which Brawl Stars and other "freemium" games are installed. The complaint does not address Apple's parental control and App Store features that restrict minors from purchasing digital content without a parent's permission.

Also mentioned in the complaint are Mario Kart Tour, FIFA Soccer, and Roblox, which along with Brawl Stars constitute some of the most popular games on iOS.

Apple is also dinged for not explicitly noting the inclusion of loot boxes in App Store descriptions and allowing developers to age rate their own products.

"Thus, there is no notice - and no requirement of any notice by Apple - to the parent or the child that a game contains Loot Boxes or other gambling mechanisms," the complaint reads.

In sum, plaintiffs conclude loot boxes constitute gambling and are therefore in violation of California law.

Complainants seek class status, restitution and disgorgement of the revenues wrongfully retained as a result of Apple's allegedly wrongful conduct, an injunction against further violations and court fees.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a long-running debate over loot boxes, in-game purchases and microtransactions. In 2019, a proposed Senate bill called the ""Protecting Children From Abusive Games Act" sought to ban loot boxes, though the statute is not expected to gain traction.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 682member
    America, land of ridiculous lawsuits and haven of lawyer. 
    Anilu_777williamlondonjeffharrisjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 45
    Anilu_777Anilu_777 Posts: 266member
    Oh ffs! Parents!! Monitor and forbid certain actions/games! Apple isn’t your mother! Take responsibility and teach your own child!! Idiots. 
    williamlondonPetrolDavejeffharrisjony0steve_jobsdhawkins541rbelizewatto_cobrauraharaSpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 45
    CiprolCiprol Posts: 52member
    This is how to generate 18% of US's national GDP through legal services. Lots of frivolous law suits based on ridicules 'Me First' expectations. Land of 'Me First'!
    williamlondonjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 45
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,467member
    I would bet the lawyers went advertising for a lead plaintiff.   This is 100% a lawyer driven grab.   They are gambling, ironically, that their free work will payoff big. 
    svanstromjeffharrisjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 45
    svanstromsvanstrom Posts: 702member
    viclauyyc said:
    America, land of ridiculous lawsuits and haven of lawyer. 
    It's actually a fairly logical result of the "freedom" of not having a government actively protecting the interests of the people.

    If you end up trusting that "the market" will fix everything, then you will also end up with some type of specialists that will act as agents of those not experienced enough in protecting their own rights within that market; which, simply put, would be the lawyers. But, that same group will of course also turn predatory, and mostly be in it for their own monetary gain; making the "too free" market reach stability at a lower efficiency than one where a democratic government more actively act on behalf of the people.
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 45
    If I get a bill saying that my kid spent $100 in downloads, SHAME ON ME for not keeping track of what he is playing. And yeah, I let my kid buy five or ten bucks in Roblux from time to time, but I always know when he attempts to make an in app purchase. Parents, DO YOUR JOB! Don’t expect Apple or anyone else to do it FOR you! My opinion, of course.
    williamlondonPetrolDavejeffharrisjony0viclauyycDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 45
    svanstromsvanstrom Posts: 702member
    tenchi211 said:
    If I get a bill saying that my kid spent $100 in downloads, SHAME ON ME for not keeping track of what he is playing. And yeah, I let my kid buy five or ten bucks in Roblux from time to time, but I always know when he attempts to make an in app purchase. Parents, DO YOUR JOB! Don’t expect Apple or anyone else to do it FOR you! My opinion, of course.
    That statement assumes that it is reasonable that parents have the knowledge to configure the device with the proper restrictions; and whether or not that is a resonable expectation with the way Apple are currently shipping their software is what the courts now will decide.

    The important thing to understand here isn't the Apple-specific situation, but rather that companies could do a lot to trick people into "accidentally" doing purchases; which means that legally there needs to be some sort of guidelines as far as what is trickery, and what is a reasonable level of making sure you as a company don't by complacency allow your customers to accidentally make unwanted purchases.

    So if Apple make their products to be used by children, and allow some type of purchases to happen in relationship to that, then they end up with a legal obligation to one way or another make sure the parents easily understand how to control such purchases. And "parents" in this context doesn't mean some ideal parents with perfect tech competency, but the type of normal parents of the market that buy Apple products.
    williamlondonjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 45
    My son is six (40 min screen time a day) and one thing that’s brought once and again to his attention are the badges and etc of the free games. I try to bring his attention to the payed ones and to the ones that do not create addictive behavior with limited success. 

    Probably is not bad that the regulators intervene into the topic. Apple’s answer to model is Arcade, we cannot pretend that Apple management is unaware of the issue or that’s just “parent’s responsibility”. 
    svanstromwatto_cobramattinoz
  • Reply 9 of 45
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member

    Named plaintiff Rebecca Taylor claims her son, "C.T.," spent at least $25 in iTunes gift cards and his parents' money on loot boxes for Supercell's Brawl Stars. C.T. continues to have access to the iPhone and iPad on which Brawl Stars and other "freemium" games are installed.

    Yup, shows how much they care.
    williamlondonPetrolDavejeffharrisjony0Dogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 45
    fred1fred1 Posts: 828member
    Here are two words for anyone who wants to limit spending on apps and can’t figure out how to place restrictions: gift cards. 
    Dogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 45
    mr lizardmr lizard Posts: 280member
    “Named plaintiff Rebecca Taylor claims her son, "C.T.," spent at least $25 in iTunes gift cards and his parents' money on loot boxes for Supercell's Brawl Stars”

    Sounds like Rebecca Taylor allowed her son to gamble using her money by choosing to not make use of the parental restrictions available on the device. 

    In some countries allowing your children to gamble and giving them the money to do so is illegal. Even where it isn’t illegal, it’s morally questionable.  
    edited June 2020 PetrolDavejony0viclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 45
    benji888benji888 Posts: 133member
    fred1 said:
    Here are two words for anyone who wants to limit spending on apps and can’t figure out how to place restrictions: gift cards. 
    That only adds money to iTunes/Apple account, there still is a credit or debit card assigned to that Apple ID...once the iTunes/App Store gift card runs out, that card is charged, so this doesn’t limit spending.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 45
    benji888benji888 Posts: 133member
    I’m glad for this lawsuit and I hope it makes headway!!!

    I hate this free app, but have to buy loot boxes (or something else) to get anywhere in the game. Words with friends has even taken this on, wish it had a non-cheat mode so I can just play the game with other non-cheaters...I don’t know if someone is beating me because they are good at it or because they use the cheats.

    i actually have given bad reviews to games and sent Apple feedback for games you can’t just play but bombard you with purchasing various loot boxes or playing “tournaments” or Scopely is notorious for buying board game brand names and turning them into in-app purchase sheet shows. I want to be able to opt out of anything but my turn notifications, no notifications for anything else, I would pay for an app that would do this instead of being “free” with all this obnoxious b.s. trying to get more and more money out of me. I.E. When scrabble first came to the iPad it was just the board game, sure you had to pay for it, but it was great! Now Scopely bought it and it’s another in-app purchase sheet show.

    A few years ago now (wow, time flies) I was interested in a start trek game, I think it was wrath of gems...it was pretty cool until you realize you can only go so far and then you hit a paywall, have to make in-app purchases to get any further with the game, they got me hooked, really hooked, but, I wasn’t going for it...I would have paid money to get the whole experience, but, not this buy this so you can get this to get further on only to have to keep doing that over and over and over.

    also, about the same time they started the “free” games, they, (various apps), starting taking the “my turn” list and adding what should be “start a new game with” and putting new players in there to trick you into playing more and more games, I hate this, I have to do a double take every time I look at who’s next to see if it’s actually my turn or if it’s a new person they want me to play...I’ll start new games when I want to, dang it! (It used to be separate sections...my turn, their turn, start a new game, now starting new games is blurred into my turn list.) this is another aspect that should be covered in this lawsuit, it’s another way to keep you playing, keep you addicted to their game! 

    I would love to see apps return to pay once for a complete experience, instead of being “free”, luring you in, then finding out you have to keep paying for in-app purchases or loot boxes to continue.

    I would love to be able to purchase a game I can just play and not have, or at least be able to opt out of, any ads for in-app purchase or tournaments or other in-game play I’m not interested in, especially when it comes to notifications, should be able to get notifications only for my turn, nothing else.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 45
    benji888benji888 Posts: 133member
    Oh, and one more thing, I also have given Apple feedback on, along with many others, but nothing was done, games where it should end but you can watch an ad to continue play, this is b.s., it’s the same as cheating, I hate ads and can’t stand this feature. It also makes the end of a game a pain, you have click in the right place to end the end game and it makes the game look stupid, plays the end animation twice.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 45
    benji888benji888 Posts: 133member
    I hope many parents get involved with this lawsuit and Apple makes some much needed changes!
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 45
    YP101YP101 Posts: 132member
    benji888 said:
    fred1 said:
    Here are two words for anyone who wants to limit spending on apps and can’t figure out how to place restrictions: gift cards. 
    That only adds money to iTunes/Apple account, there still is a credit or debit card assigned to that Apple ID...once the iTunes/App Store gift card runs out, that card is charged, so this doesn’t limit spending.
    Nope..I don't think you did not read to the end.. fred1 said at the end gift card.
    If you buy gift card then there is no credit cards linked to that Apple account. CVS, Walmart, Walgreen,  basically every retail store selling these gift card.


    jony0Dogperson
  • Reply 17 of 45
    benji888benji888 Posts: 133member
    YP101 said:
    benji888 said:
    fred1 said:
    Here are two words for anyone who wants to limit spending on apps and can’t figure out how to place restrictions: gift cards. 
    That only adds money to iTunes/Apple account, there still is a credit or debit card assigned to that Apple ID...once the iTunes/App Store gift card runs out, that card is charged, so this doesn’t limit spending.
    Nope..I don't think you did not read to the end.. fred1 said at the end gift card.
    If you buy gift card then there is no credit cards linked to that Apple account. CVS, Walmart, Walgreen,  basically every retail store selling these gift card.


    I did read it to the end. Do you have an Apple ID account? You have to have a credit or debit card attached to it, if you don’t, then perhaps I am wrong, but in that case the account would have to be funded upon creating it, using only iTunes/App Store gift cards.

    if no credit/debit card is attached to an account, you can’t make any purchases, in-app or otherwise. I think very few parents will have an Apple ID account that does not have a credit or debit card assigned to it,
    williamlondongatorguy
  • Reply 18 of 45
    benji888benji888 Posts: 133member
    ...when you redeem an iTunes/App Store gift card that amount goes into your Apple ID account as store credit. It does not work where you purchase something and enter the gift card number each purchase like when you use a Home Depot or other storefront gift card.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 45
    fred1fred1 Posts: 828member
    benji888 said:
    ...when you redeem an iTunes/App Store gift card that amount goes into your Apple ID account as store credit. It does not work where you purchase something and enter the gift card number each purchase like when you use a Home Depot or other storefront gift card.
    That’s exactly what I mean. Put $10, or whatever, from a gift card into your account with no credit card and no one can spend more than $10. 
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 45
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 338member
    You can disable in app purchases through parental controls. Next time Johny wants to buy a skin, he can ask mommy to allow the purchase. Kids in California I feel sorry for you!  
    jony0Dogpersonwatto_cobra
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