On Monday, Epic Games announced that as part of preliminary approval for a class-action settlement it will give users of Fortnite‘s “Save the World” mode who purchased “loot boxes” 1,000 V-Bucks, which is Fortnite’s in-game currency.
These loot boxes appeared as “loot llamas” in the game, purchasing would give the player randomized items. Fortnite: Save the World contained these randomized loot boxes until at least 2019, when Epic Games changed its loot box system to allow players to see what was inside the boxes before purchasing by replacing the “loot llamas” with “X-Ray” Llamas.
Epic Games noted that although the class settlement would only apply to U.S. users, it decided to make this benefit available globally. Anyone who purchased a loot box before it was discontinued will receive 1,000 V-Bucks from Epic Games, which is the equivalent of approximately $8. The currency will be automatically deposited into their accounts.
The proposed settlement also includes Rocket League players who purchased in-game items, such as event crates or keys to open loot boxes in the game before Epic Games stopped offering them in October 2019; these players will similarly receive 1,000 credits, worth approximately $9.10. Epic Games estimated that approximately 6.5 million U.S. Fortnite players and 2.9 U.S. million Rocket League players will automatically receive these payments, according to The Verge.
Further, the proposed settlement provides for $26.4 million in additional cash and other benefits for Fortnite and Rocket League players “to resolve claims arising from players’ purchases of Fortnite and Rocket League in-game items”; thus, compensating for prior purchases beyond the terms of the settlement. Up to $50 of these funds will be available per claimant that fills out a form for claiming consumer fraud. Players who believe they were subject to legal harm as a result of their purchase can contest for money back. Additionally, California minors that purchased loot boxes with their own money and without a parent’s permission will also be eligible for the up to $50 refund if they submit a claim.
This is a proposed settlement for the case, Zanca, et al. v. Epic Games, Inc., which is held in the Superior Court of Wake County, North Carolina, Judge Keith Gregory gave preliminary approval to the class action settlement. The class period is from July 1, 2015, to the date of the preliminary approval.
Epic Games has faced other lawsuits regarding its loot boxes, including one from a minor. More recently, Epic Games was sued by a parent for allowing minors to make in-game purchases with real money without parental permission. Meanwhile, Google was sued for allowing games that have loot boxes to be on its app store.
Epic Games tweeted, “We believe players should know upfront what they are paying for when they make in-game purchases. This is why today we only offer X-Ray Llamas that show you the contents before them in ‘Save the World.’”
Regulating loot boxes has proven to be difficult. The Gambling Regulators European Forum released a statement in 2018 expressing their concern about gaming turning into gambling. Meanwhile, in the United States in 2018 Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) secured a commitment from the Federal Trade Commission to investigate game loot boxes, which purportedly produce gambling-like behavior in children. While U.S. bills have been introduced to regulate this conduct, none have passed.