Apple sued for reaping the rewards of loot boxes in the App Store
June 18, 2020
Apple has been hit with a class action lawsuit which was filed on the 12th of June 2020.
The lawsuit highlights the fact that Apple’s App Store contains apps and games that provide loot boxes to minors.
It’s believed by many that loot boxes are a form of gambling as they require money to be spent. The value of the prizes found in the loot boxes cannot be guaranteed.
Tim Sweeney, Co-Founder of Epic Games, had this to say about loot boxes:
“We should be very reticent of creating an experience where the outcome can be influenced by spending money. Loot boxes play on all the mechanics of gambling except for the ability to get more money out in the end.
Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust? We have businesses that profit by doing their customers harm.”
Billions of Dollars Earned
It’s no secret that the apps and games on the Apple App Store are predominantly purchased by children. Minors are known to use their parent’s credit cards and Apple has long been raking in the profits.
The US District Court for the Northern District of California states in the lawsuit that Apple is “complicit in promoting gambling and addictive behavior” by providing a platform that features harmful apps.
Apps and games mentioned in the lawsuit include FIFA Football, Mario Kart Tour, Brawl Stars, and Roblox. All of these games allow children to purchase loot boxes which has made the company billions of dollars.
It’s not apparent how much of the earnings are directly received due to loot boxes but Apple reported sales in excess of $46 Billion in 2019 alone.
One of the main issues listed in the law suit is that the App Store in no way mentions that loot boxes are available.
Are Loot Boxes a Form of Gambling?
There are many that believe loot boxes are a form of a gambling or can lead to gambling problems in the future due to their inconsistent nature.
The law suit states that almost every study published comparing loot boxes to gambling has found a connection between the two.
“Given all (sic) everything we know about the similarities between [loot] boxes and slot machines, it would actually be astounding and surprising were there not such a connection. They are, in many ways, so closely related … The mechanics within a loot box look and feel like a gamble. Once minors are exposed to game of chance mechanisms, there is a significantly higher risk that they will have problems with it at a later stage in their lives.”
Loot boxes have long since been debated along with in-game transactions and microtransactions.
Many countries including Belgium and Japan have already banned loot boxes for violating gambling laws and the same could soon take place in the US.
The class action includes more than 100 members and should the lawsuit go to court, it could mean Apple having to pay out more than $5 million in costs, attorney fees, and compensation.