There has always been controversy surrounding microtransactions and loot boxes. Whether they classify as gambling or if they are purely implemented in games for entertainment purposes, there have been countless lawsuits filed against their existence. A number of countries even banned games with this mechanic from being available for purchase. The latest company to go to court over loot boxes is the technological giant, Apple.
A class-action lawsuit has been raised in the US District Court of Northern California against Apple for "predatory practices" regarding loot boxes on the App Store. The claims filed against Apple are specifically for unlawful and unfair business practices, unfair and deceptive acts and practices, and unfair enrichment. There are several definitions for gambling, and the California Penal Code defines it in their own terms. It is when a player gives the device money in the hopes of receiving valuable items or monetary value in return.
The App Store does indeed notify people of the presence of in-app purchases before you download certain applications. On the developer's side, they have to present Apple with the odds of the present loot boxes in-game. However, Apple doesn't adhere to ESRB ratings and even profits directly from in-app purchases of loot boxes, which brings up their involvement in the case. The following is a statement from the filing:
Through the games it sells and offers for free to consumers through its AppStore, Apple engages in predatory practices enticing consumers, including children to engage in gambling and similar addictive conduct in violation of this and other laws designed to protect consumers and to prohibit such practices
A player uses his iPhone, iPad, or computer with the downloaded game on it (#1); The player pays real-world currency for the opportunity to open a Loot Box (#2); and the Loot Box is a randomized chance to obtain something valuable in-game.
What do you think of the lawsuit filed against Apple for their store's loot box policies? Do you think we will ever see a definitive answer on how to classify loot boxes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.