Video Game Addiction Lawsuit Involves Microsoft, EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Epic Games: Were The Companies Allegedly Targeting Certain Gamers?

Zinger Key Points
  • Lawsuit accuses major gaming companies of enabling video game addiction.
  • Allegations include negligence and deceptive practices.

A lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Arkansas on Oct. 30 targeted major video game companies, including Microsoft Corp MSFT, Electronic Arts Inc EA, Activision Blizzard Inc ATVI, Ubisoft Entertainment SA UBSFF and Epic Games, for allegedly enabling video game addiction.

The complaint, brought by an Arkansas mother on behalf of her child, accused these companies of engaging in a "concerted effort to get consumers addicted" to their games to maximize profits, Insider Gaming reported.

See Also: When Innocent Play Turns Dangerous: The UK NHS Treats Child Gaming Addiction That Can Lead To Violence Against Parents

The 13-year-old child, identified as G.D., played games for 12 to 14 hours daily, with Fortnite, Rainbow Six: Siege, Battlefield and Call of Duty being among the titles. He spent approximately $3,000 on in-game transactions and downloadable content, excluding console costs and subscription fees.

The lawsuit lists 14 counts of action, including negligence for failing to warn users of games' addictive nature, fraudulent misrepresentation, and violation of the Deceptive Trade Practice Act.

The plaintiff seeks damages for G.D.'s injuries, economic loss for the parents, statutory and punitive damages and legal fees, with the specific amounts to be determined in court.

The 129-page complaint delved into various monetization schemes, such as loot boxes, pay-to-win transactions, and "rubber banding," where the game's difficulty is adjusted based on players' willingness to make in-game purchases.

It also highlighted 16 patents affecting minors and their in-game spending, including customizing messaging campaigns based on player behavior, modifying multiplayer match difficulty to encourage microtransaction purchases and notifying players that achievements won't unlock unless they purchase the full game.

The lawsuit discussed how these companies target "whales" and how cloud gaming expands their predatory activities by providing greater access to their games, ultimately leading to what is described as "a generation of gaming addicts."

The World Health Organization recognized "gaming disorder" as an official illness in 2019, although it refrained from using the term "addiction." 

The case will proceed in court, with potential consequences for the video game industry and its practices regarding microtransactions and monetization strategies.

Read Next: No Eating, No Sleeping: Is A Hit Video Game Too Addictive For Children? Class Action Lawsuit Moves Forward

Image credits: Stock-Asso on Shutterstock.

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