Last year, Nintendo removed the gacha elements from its mobile game, Mario Kart Tour. These elements were replaced with a ‘Spotlight Shop’ where players could receive in-game rewards using undisclosed odds. However, despite the update to the item system, Axios reports that a young gamer, with permission from his father, has filed a lawsuit against the video game giant in the US over supposed “immoral” microtransactions in the mobile racer.
The details of the lawsuit
The lawsuit was initially filed at a state level in March and has now entered the federal system. It requests refunds for all US minors who paid to use Mario Kart Tour’s “Spotlight Pipes,” which were used to deliver in-game rewards using undisclosed odds. Prior to the update, players could spend real money on repeatedly activating the pipes with the hope of randomly obtaining useful upgrades.
The lawsuit’s plaintiff, identified as N.A., reportedly spent over $170 on Mario Kart Tour microtransactions, using his father’s credit card, which was linked to their Nintendo user account. The suit alleges that Nintendo intentionally made the game difficult to progress without paying, using “dark patterns” that encourage players to spend more. The lawsuit further claims that the lootbox mechanism within Mario Kart Tour reinforced addictive behaviors and can be likened to gambling.
The alleged violation of consumer protection laws
The suit alleges that these practices breach the Consumer Protection Act of Washington State and California business law. The plaintiff accuses Nintendo of intentionally using “dark patterns” that encourage excessive spending by minors, who may not fully understand the consequences of their actions.
The impact on the video game industry
The lawsuit raises concerns about the use of microtransactions in video games, particularly those targeted at minors. While microtransactions are a common feature in many games, they have been criticized for introducing gambling-like behaviors into gaming. This lawsuit could have significant implications for the video game industry as it may lead to increased scrutiny of microtransactions and their potential to exploit gamers, particularly minors.
The lawsuit against Nintendo highlights the need for greater transparency and ethical considerations in the use of microtransactions in video games. While microtransactions can be a legitimate revenue stream for game developers, the use of “dark patterns” and lootbox mechanics that encourage excessive spending by minors is a cause for concern. It remains to be seen how this lawsuit will be resolved, but it may lead to important changes in the video game industry and how it approaches microtransactions.