Consumers Can Get Ripped Off in the Digital World Also
Anytime an industry becomes more popular or more present in our everyday lives, there will certainly be more allure for companies to defraud people. The mobile gaming industry is no exception, as a recent lawsuit against the maker of a popular game shows.
Suit Alleges Consumers Were Deceived
A class action lawsuit filed a few years ago against the maker of the popular game Candy Crush, which is played on mobile phones, is an example of how what we do and pay for online can have real-world repercussions.
Like many of these types of games, the nature of the play makes it somewhat “addictive.” Also like so many of these games, consumers can play for a limited time for free—in the case of Candy Crush, after losing the game, players would have to wait about 30 minutes before getting more lives so they could continue to play.
Of course, the game is designed to make it frustrating for players to wait that long, so the developers provided other options to obtain additional lives. Players could pay for more lives, or they could post about the game on their Facebook feed. When other users downloaded the game from the Facebook link, the user received additional lives.
Doing so acted like free marketing, according to the suit, thus, passing the developer’s marketing jobs and costs onto the consumer.
Lives Then Were Deleted
The problem is that the developer did not tell anyone that it had changed its policy to allow the lives earned through the Facebook marketing to be taken away. Many users had reported this exact same thing happening to their Candy Crush games.
A class action lawsuit was filed, alleging fraud in that the lives were promised and then taken away. The developer tried to counter by saying that the plaintiffs couldn’t maintain the suit because they hadn’t paid anything out of their pockets.
But the court noted the inherent value that the developer received when users posted to their Facebook account with Candy Crush information and when new users downloaded the game.
Additionally, the extra lives had to have a value, because users did have the option of just buying new lives.
Loot Boxes Investigated
All of this is after the FTC has started investigating the use of “loot boxes” in games. Loot boxes are in-game rewards that can give characters more powers, give user access to different techniques or weapons, or give access to different characters. The problem is that users must pay for them, and users don’t know what is inside the loot box until they pay.
That means that these boxes are being investigated as a form of gambling. Many users see them as simply a digital pack of baseball cards—you could pay and get something good, or you could pay and get absolutely nothing that you actually need in the game.
These lawsuits (and many others like them) are reminders that fraud and deception doesn’t just happen in the real world. Every transaction, including digital ones, must treat consumers fairly, and businesses have to give people what they promise if they want to avoid being sued.
Has a business been dishonest with you or cheated you out of something you paid for? Contact Jacobs Legal in Miami today to discuss whether you may have legal recourse.