Lawsuit Filed Against Nintendo Regarding Spotlight Pipes
Nintendo, the multinational video game company, has been served with a lawsuit for their use of loot box features in their game, Mario Kart Tour. The loot box feature has been described as “immoral”. This is a new development for Nintendo, whose use of surprise mechanics in their own loot boxes has led to accusations of immorality, as described by fellow video game publisher, Electronic Arts (EA). Specifically, the “Spotlight Pipes” feature in Mario Kart Tour has come under scrutiny, as it allows players to pay simply for the chance to receive in-game items.
The plaintiff, a user who spent $170 on Spotlight Pipes and other microtransactions, asserts that Nintendo employed unethical persuasive tactics to lead players to use surprise mechanics in order to progress in the game. This practice known as a “dark pattern” is illegal in some US states.
This case is yet another example of the ongoing controversy surrounding the use of loot boxes in video games. EA has been the subject of numerous lawsuits related to their own loot box practices that have been criticized as “deceptive.” The plaintiff feels that microtransactions in video games should be deemed as gambling.
The issue at hand is that the purchase of loot boxes cannot guarantee equal value every time. Though uncertainty can be exciting, it is an unfair practice. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine the likelihood of outcomes as video game providers do not release their algorithms’ statistics voluntarily.
A lawsuit demands refunds for minors in the US who bought Spotlight Pipes on Mario Kart. Nintendo has not yet responded, but internal changes are expected to be made, eliminating the chance element. Instead, an in-game store has replaced loot boxes with individual item purchases with no surprises.
Several game developers are following suit, moving away from items like battle passes and cosmetic items in favor of those that do not provide in-game advantages, despite landmark victories such as those of EA.