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An Epic Fail: Complaint Against Fortnite Creator Based On Facts As Stale As Fruitcake
Parents can get angry when their kids spend too much time or money on video games. We get it. But going after a gaming company in retaliation is probably not the best response. And doing so without actually understanding the game can result in, well, a giant waste of time, or, in a recent example, an epic fail.
Last week, an angry parent filed a putative class action in California federal court against Epic Games, Inc., the maker of Fortnite. In the complaint, the angry parent alleges that the company has unfairly and deceptively lured young players into buying random features to advance in the game. The angry parent claims that Epic has developed a “predatory scheme.” There are colorful allegations, such as that Epic “exploits [its] informational advantage mercilessly to lure minors and other purchases into making purchases they otherwise would not make.”
A key component to the angry parent’s allegations is the random nature of the in-game purchases, i.e. loot boxes styled as Llamas. The complaint repeatedly likens the Llama loot boxes (did we just earn an alliteration Llama?) to slot machines and emphasizes that players do not know what the Llamas loot boxes will contain before they purchase them.
If the angry parent got off his high horse and actually spent a little time on the game, he would realize that there is no randomized purchasing to save the world from. We work a lot in the gaming space and know a thing or two about slot machines. These Llamas are nothing like a slot machine and there is nothing random about them. Indeed, Epic changed its loot box practices earlier this year to allow for people to see what would be inside their loot box prior to making a purchase (see https://www.pcgamer.com/fortnite-save-the-worlds-loot-boxes-will-let-you-see-whats-inside-them-before-you-buy/). So where is the randomness in that?
The complaint even concedes that,
“Had Plaintiff R.A. known the extremely low chances he had to receive the loot he wanted, he would not have purchased the Llamas.”
“[I]f Epic changed its practices so as to comply with the law, Plaintiff R.A. would consider purchasing Llamas in the future.”
Current Fortnite features seem to have pulled the magic rug out from under the crux of the angry parent’s complaint, rendering the putative class action largely baseless. We anticipate no Survivors to a motion to dismiss if Epic is up for the challenge.