Epic Games Faces New Lawsuit Over Llama Loot Boxes
An emerging lawsuit, filed by the parent of an underage Fortnite player, accuses Epic Games of “preying” upon players—particularly young players—by enticing them with Llama loot boxes that almost never deliver upon the rare loot they promise.
Fortnite has long since done away with blind loot boxes, like those available for purchase in games like Overwatch and Apex Legends; instead, players can purchase “X-Ray Llamas” that give players a hint at what valuable loot might be within. Additionally, Llamas are only available in Fortnite’s Save the World mode, and not in the wildly popular Battle Royale mode.
Epic Games, like all game studios that make loot boxes and similar gimmicks available in their game, don’t disclose the rates at which rare items might drop. This new plaintiff argues that this is a deceptive business practice. “Only Epic knows the odds of receiving any given loot in a Llama, and it exploits this informational advantage mercilessly to lure minors and other purchasers into making purchases they otherwise would not make,” the plaintiff alleges in court documents.
The plaintiff’s allegations are based on the premise that players must purchase in-game loot to advance in Fortnite’s Save the World mode. Most games offer in-game purchases that aesthetically enhance the player’s character, gear, or in-game interactions; the plaintiff’s issue here is that Epic Games is “luring” young players in with a low-price point game and then pushes loot box purchases hard once the player is invested.
The entire court document is available to the public and can be read in full on Scribd. If other consumers choose to jump on board, there’s potential here for a class-action lawsuit.
Complaints about blind loot boxes have raised so many consumer concerns in the past that the United States Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into the legality of loot boxesin November of 2018. The US government shutdown forced the FTC to table its investigations, and it’s not clear when they will resume and what results they might yield.
This isn’t the first time Fortnite has found itself in legal trouble. The “Fortnite dances” that sparked a social media craze (and a fair amount of groaning from older generations) also sparked a slew of lawsuits as primarily Black creators accused Fortnite of profiting off of their work. While nothing has come of these legal complaints as of yet, Epic Games’ legal team will now have to contend with their legally and morally dubious llamas on top of their existing accusations.
Fortnite should put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes. Black creatives created and popularized these dances but never monetized them. Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them
— Chance Owbum 📅 (@chancetherapper) July 13, 2018
Despite their legal challenges, Epic Games has no intention of letting Fortnite’s momentum deteriorate. With its eighth competitive season underway, updates continuously rolling out, and a World Cup in the works, it’ll take more than a little llama drama to make Epic Games pump the breaks on its main source of cash flow.
Does the loot box issue grind your gears, or is this just business as usual in the modern gaming world? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! And don’t let any llamas get the better of you out there.