Loot Boxes

  • The odds that Apple will be facing a lawsuit over predatory loot box mechanics is high as they allow them in video games available on the App Store.
  • Apple received a formal complaint Friday over loot boxes being available in games directly aimed at children, claiming that the company “relies on creating addictive behavior in kids.”
  • This continues a battle against loot boxes in multiple countries across the world.

CUPERTINO, Calif. – Apple is facing a potential new lawsuit from a woman in California who is attempting to bring to light the predatory nature of loot box mechanics.

Plaintiff Rebecca Taylor is claiming that the Apple App Store knowingly allows games directly aimed at children to contain these loot box features.

After her son spent $25 via the App Store gift cards, Taylor says that loot boxes are basically gambling, and are encouraging children to risk real money for virtual commodities.

“Not unlike Big Tobacco’s Joe Camel’ advertising campaign, Apple relies on creating addictive behaviors in kids to generate huge profits for the Company,” said Taylor in the official complaint. “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.”

This brings back a much larger argument that has been raging in the video game realm for a few years now.

According to the UK’s Guardian, loot boxes are valued at over $29 billion per year across the world of gaming.

These tactics are not only unique to mobile games but are highly prevalent in esports titles like Call of Duty, Overwatch, NBA 2k, FIFA, and many more.

Loot Boxes Explained

For those unfamiliar, the concept of a loot box is a randomized box of video game content such as weapons, new characters, outfits, etc. that is awarded or purchased by a player using real money.

Since these boxes are random, players are effectively gambling for content that is not guaranteed. It is easy to see how children would be fooled into spending unnecessary money in an attempt to receive a specific rare weapon or game boost.

In most cases, the items are just cosmetic in nature, but in some cases, the box items can directly influence your strength or ability in the game.

This is known as Pay-to-Win and game companies who exploit these tactics, like Electronic Arts, have come under heavy fire in the media.

Going forward, it won’t be crazy to see apps being removed from the App Store as more and more complaints arise.

In the UK, steps are already being taken to officially classify loot boxes as gambling and similar legislation might be pushed to the US.

Regardless, these predatory gaming features need to be under more scrutiny, especially when packaged and aimed directly at children who shouldn’t be able to engage in legal betting on video games.

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