An amended complaint filed last Thursday asserts that Roblox Corporation, operator of the online game platform Roblox, has illegally curtailed minor gamers’ right to refunds of their in-game purchases. According to the Northern District of California filing, California law permits minors the right to disaffirm contracts and seek refunds of virtual purchases they are dissatisfied with, but Roblox fails to comply.
The suit concerns Roblox’s “freemium” business model. Thereunder, the San Mateo, Calif.-headquartered game developer allows users to sign up and play its games for free but offers in-game purchases, like items and avatars, the most desirable of which can only be obtained through virtual currency purchases.
“The system was created to capitalize on and encourage addictive behaviors,” the filing says, noting that kids are particularly susceptible to such addiction-enhancing elements of game design. Further, and at the heart of the suit, is the plaintiff’s allegation that “Roblox does not operate a uniform policy of allowing minors who disaffirm their contract to receive a full refund, as is required by law.”
The filing adds Roblox has been the subject of Federal Trade Commission and congressional scrutiny because of both the addictive nature of game item sales and its refusal to refund minors.
The revised pleading follows the court’s dismissal of the case in September. Judge Maxime C. Chesney ruled in favor of Roblox on jurisdictional grounds after finding that, based on the allegations, the named plaintiff did not actually seek a refund from Roblox or from distributor Amazon before filing suit or show its futility.
“In sum, there being no showing that Roblox has either denied or would deny a request by V.R. for a refund, V.R.’s claims, all of which seek an order requiring Roblox to provide a refund, are not ripe for adjudication,” the opinion concluded.
The new pleading claims that Roblox’s refund policy does not permit refunds, nor does Amazon’s, so any attempt to receive one would have been unsuccessful. It also asserts that there would be no issue had Roblox implemented proper parental control and age verification features or implemented features permitting minors to obtain refunds for purchases.
The suit seeks declaratory relief and with it remedies including injunctive relief and damages. The putative class extends to all minors residing in the United States who purchased virtual currency or in-app items within Roblox.
The plaintiff is represented by Bursor & Fisher P.A.
As recently reported, the video game industry has been home to a host of lawsuits with its ascendence, with consumer payment or refund-related cases making up just one kind.