Apple Next In Loot Box Line Of Fire

By Ben Hamill - June 22 2020
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Apple Next In Loot Box Line Of Fire

It now seems as if Apple is the latest company to have landed in the regulatory line of fire over the controversial nature of loot boxes. According to an Apple insider news source, the tech giant may have to answer to a California class action lawsuit involving its failure to properly regulate product developers offering games via its official App Store.

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The application to bring the class action lawsuit before a California court has reportedly been lodged by concerned parent Rebecca Taylor, who appears to be claiming predatory behaviour by the tech giant for its failure to properly manage and regulate product developers of games like Mario Kart Tour, Roblox, Brawl Stars and FIFA Soccer. 

Potential Consequences

If the lawsuit is permitted to gain class action traction, Apple will have to explain to the court why it is that product developers aren’t explicitly requested to state whether or not apps or games contain loot boxes at the time of entertainment content being approved and added to the App Store.

The documents lodged before court reportedly refer to the tech giant having acknowledged by implication the gambling nature of loot boxes based on the fact that Apple requires product developers to clearly state the odds of items of a certain value being present in loot boxes. Apple furthermore requires product developers/owners to enforce age limits on all games containing gambling- and gambling-related content.

Users aren’t typically allowed insight into the contents of a loot box. And since payment is made before the nature and in-game value of those contents are made known to the buyer, many countries have started re-classifying games offering loot boxes from ordinary gaming content to gambling gaming content.

A Snowballing Problem

While the controversial nature of loot boxes has traditionally revolved around the actual games developers and product owners, the potential lawsuit against Apple is the first brought against an online store over a failure to duly regulate content in the correct manner and classification. And even if unsuccessful at graduating to class action lawsuit, the heat on loot boxes is with each subsequent action of this nature turned up yet another notch.

The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as recently as a little over a week ago launched an official call for evidence aimed at determining whether or not loot boxes should be reclassified as gambling content. UK law currently still categorises games that include loot boxes as appropriate for all ages, i.e. non-gambling content.

Several European countries have either already banned loot boxes in games targeting an under-age audience or are in the process of investigating whether or not those games should be age restricted.

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