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Apple faces lawsuit over loot boxes in App Store games

The potential class action says Apple is enabling gambling.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
June 13, 2020
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Adelaide, Australia - September 23, 2013: Clicking the App Store icon on the new ipad running iOS 7. iOS 7 is the foundation of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It comes with a collection of apps and useful features. The iOS 7 update features a redesigned interface and hundreds of new features.
ymgerman via Getty Images

Most complaints about loot boxes (aka “surprise mechanics”) in games are levelled against the developers, but the latest is aiming at the stores offering those games. AppleInsider has learned of a potential class action lawsuit accusing Apple of profiting from the distribution of games with loot boxes, whose gambling element allegedly violates California law. The company is tacitly aware that loot boxes are gambling as it requires that creators disclose the “odds of winning,” according to the lawsuit, but it doesn’t ask for a notification that loot boxes exist. Companies are also allowed to set their own age ratings, making it possible for an app deemed kid-friendly to include gambling elements.

The lawsuit cites numerous games that rely on loot boxes (if sometimes indirectly), including Mario Kart Tour, FIFA Soccer, Roblox and Brawl Stars. The lawsuit was filed by Rebecca Taylor, a parent whose child has allegedly fallen to the “predatory” tactics.

The lawsuit isn’t guaranteed to get class action status. However, it steps up the pressure on Apple and other digital game sellers to clearly disclose the presence of loot boxes. There have already been efforts to regulate the games, and lawsuits like this could increase calls to regulate the stores as well.

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