Epic Games are giving away free virtual currency for Fortnite and Rocket League after settling a lawsuit over unclear lootbox contents.
GamesIndustry.biz reports that after settling a class-action lawsuit, those who purchased the Loot Llama in Fortnite will receive 1,000 V-Bucks, while those who purchased an Event Crate or Key in Rocket League will get 1,000 Rocket League credits. Epic Games changed how Fortnite lootboxes operated in 2019.
In statements issued on both games’ websites [1, 2] Epic Games explain that the offer was due to players not knowing what the contents of the lootbox were. Instead, the X-Ray Llamas in Fortnite make it clear what they could contain. While the preliminary approval for the class action settlement only applied to US players, Epic Games have given this offer to all players globally within a few days.
The Verge reports the final approval for the settlement is scheduled for May 2021; with laywers from both sides expecting it to be approved as-is. The settlement also reportedly involves an additional $26.4 million in cash and other benefits “to resolve claims arising from players’ loot box purchases.” These would be other purchases prior to the above lootboxes.
Anyone who played either game from July 1st, 2015 can file a claim here.
In 2018, the UK Gambling Commission refuted the claim made by some media outlets that lootboxes are akin to gambling. Despite this (or in response to it), in 2019 the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended the UK government ban the sale of lootboxes to children, after its nine month inquiry into “immersive and addictive technologies.”
The inquiry involved speaking to industry representatives, including EA and Epic Games. While some felt the proceedings were intentionally badgering, there were blunderous comments made by them.
EA representatives claimed lootboxes were “surprise mechanics,” while an Epic Games representative said they “would disagree with the statement that Epic makes money from people playing the games.“ The UK’s report would later lament that “some representatives” chose to lie, in the committee’s opinion.
In October 2019, EA had filed another patent to encourage microtransactions via creating a “sense of urgency“ as a microtransaction item decreases in “value” over time.
In earlier news, EA face a fine of up to €10 Million EUR over “illegal loot boxes” in FIFA games, after a Dutch court ruled them to be gambling without a licence. EA are also facing a class action lawsuit in Canada over lootboxes across several sports games. These include the Madden NFL series, and EA Sport’s NHL series.
EA are also being sued over the alleged use of patented dynamic difficulty technology to encourage lootbox purchases in EA Sports titles. The suit claims that even players with high stats end up not playing as effectively as they should, and that if EA are using this technology they are not disclosing it.
EA removed premium currency from FIFA 18 and FIFA 19, after Belgium authorities deemed lootboxes as being on-par with gambling. In addition several companies pulled their games from service within Belgium.
While the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) would recommend a ban on games with lootboxes aimed at children in January 2020, UK trade body The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) reiterated many tools and methods are already in place.
In early June 2020, the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport then called for evidence that lootboxes should be deemed gambling. This later lead to the UK’s House of Lords Select Committee calling on the UK government to “act immediately” and classify lootboxes as gambling.
In late July 2020, a European Union Report recommended tackling lootboxes via new consumer protection regulation, rather than via gambling based ones. Most recently, former EA and EA Sports executive Peter Moore stated in an interview that the Ultimate Team lootboxes are closer to “surprise and delight” than gambling.