Nintendo Faces Lawsuit Over Mario Kart Tour’s “Immoral” Loot Boxes
These days, video game loot boxes aren’t quite as ubiquitous as they once were, but that hasn’t stopped one young player from suing Nintendo over their inclusion in the mobile game Mario Kart Tour. The suit claims that the game’s loot boxes (known as Spotlight Pipes) are a form of trickery that encourages “addictive behaviors akin to gambling.”
As reported by Axios, these Spotlight Pipes are loot boxes with undisclosed odds, and players used to be able to spend real money to activate the pipes again and again to obtain useful upgrades. (That functionality was removed last year.) The suit’s plaintiff apparently spent more than $170 on microtransactions in Mario Kart Tour. The suit alleges that Nintendo intentionally steered players towards Spotlight Pipes in order to progress in the game, a practice known as “dark patterns” that has been made illegal in Washington and California in recent years.
Nintendo replaced Spotlight Pipes with an in-game shop where players can buy the items directly last year. We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment, and we’ll update this piece if we hear back. The Tokyo giant is far from the only company to face legal scrutiny due to loot boxes; last year, the FTC fined Epic Games more than $500 million for using “dark patterns” to encourage Fortnite players to make purchases in its online store. It’s likely that suits like these are a major part of why big games have largely replaced loot box systems with battle passes, a trend perhaps exemplified by Overwatch 2.
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Nintendo is currently facing a lawsuit over the implementation of loot boxes in their game Mario Kart Tour. The lawsuit is being brought forth by two separate individuals who contend that the game’s implementation of loot boxes is immoral and a breach of local gambling legislation.
The lawsuit was filed in California’s Northern District Court and claims that Nintendo has allowed Mario Kart Tour to include “loot boxes” that allow customers to purchase an uncertain outcome. By doing so, Nintendo is in violation of California’s unconstitutional gambling laws. The plaintiffs allege that these loot boxes act in much the same manner as a casino slot machine, making it an immoral and illegal practice for a company of Nintendo’s size and stature.
The lawsuit also states that Nintendo is taking advantage of vulnerable individuals by enticing them to spend large sums of money in pursuit of an uncertain outcome. This is especially nefarious due to the fact that these loot boxes are often targeted toward children. The plaintiffs argue that these loot boxes create a false sense of achievement as players can become hooked on the pursuit of an uncertain outcome.
Nintendo has yet to comment on the lawsuit or the allegations therein. Regardless of the outcome, this lawsuit serves as a reminder that companies of all sizes need to be aware of local gambling laws and their implementation in all of their products. Governments should also be cognizant of the games companies develop and the impact they may have on vulnerable populations such as children.
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