A US lawsuit over loot boxes has led to Epic Games distributing in-game virtual currency to Rocket League and Fortnite players who bought loot boxes in either game.
The details of the settlement
Fortnite has never offered loot boxes in the battle royale version of Fortnite, instead, they offered “loot llamas” full of random items in the often forgotten Fortnite: Save the World. Rocket League players who purchased an Event Crate or related Key will also receive the in-game currency. Players that purchased any of these items will not have to do anything to claim their free currency, it will just be credited to their accounts. Also, while the lawsuit was based in the US, the publisher has decided to make the settlement available to all players who purchased a loot box-type item.
Fortnite players will receive 1000 V-Bucks, this is roughly equivalent to $8 in real currency. In the same vein, Rocket League players will also receive 1000 credits, these are also roughly $9 in value. Both games stopped offering these loot box equivalent items for purchase back in 2019 amid the backlash against simulated gambling for children.
The issue with the settlement
This comes after the preliminary approval of the class action settlement. In my opinion, this is nothing but a promotional tool for Epic Games. They lose very little by settling with in-game currency. In fact, it could draw players back in who have since lapsed from playing the game. By settling with in-game currency, they don’t take any money out of their pockets, they simply lose a certain percentage of potential income. The only part of the settlement that seems like a genuine punishment for the company is the $26.4 million in additional cash and other benefits to resolve claims arising from players’ loot box purchases. Unfortunately, this will mostly be paid out to cover legal fees. Epic Games seems to be getting away with it.
Comments from the Fortnite Team
What follows is the announcement made by the Fortnite Team on their website:
“We used to offer random item Loot Llamas in Fortnite: Save the World, which was an in-game purchase option where you wouldn’t always know what you were getting. While some of you enjoyed purchasing random item Loot Llamas and being surprised by the content unlocked, others were disappointed. So we decided a better experience for players was to be upfront and outline the details of in-game purchases — through the Item Shop and with new “X-Ray” Llamas.
Whether you were a fan of random item Loot Llamas or not, with preliminary approval for a class action settlement, we’re awarding 1,000 V-Bucks to anyone that purchased a random Loot Llama. While this settlement was for U.S. players only, we have decided to make this benefit available to players globally. There’s no action needed on your part, and you should receive your V-Bucks within the next few days.”
In the past week, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, spoke to an audience at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas about the dangers of lootboxes:
“I think we will see more and more publishers move away from loot boxes. We should be very reticent of creating an experience where the outcome can be influenced by spending money. Loot boxes play on all the mechanics of gambling, except for the ability to get more money out in the end.”
Despite these grand words, he is simply using the past failures of his company as a marketing tool for its future.