A couple months ago, Blizzard Entertainment won the company’s bid to keep the lawsuit against Overwatch‘s loot boxes out of litigation, forcing the lawsuit into arbitration and out of court. Now, Blizzard is facing another potential class-action lawsuit against randomized loot boxes, or in this case, card packs, due to a parent suing over Hearthstone allegedly manipulating minors into buying non-refundable card packs. Blizzard’s Hearthstone reflects other free-to-play games with micro-transactions, like Fortnite and Clash of Clans: free entry, but slow, tedious progression to entice the player to spend money to accelerate the player’s level or receive more powerful rewards. Lately, loot boxes, randomized rewards, and other micro-transactions that cost real money have been under fire for allegedly manipulating children into acquiring gambling addictions and hurting unsuspecting parents’ wallets.
For this instance, Nathan Harris, an Arizona resident, filed the lawsuit against Blizzard in Orange County, California on behalf of his daughter, stating that his child has spent more than $300 on Hearthstone card packs using her father’s linked credit and debit cards without permission. Within the complaint’s filing, Harris argues his daughter, a minor, almost never received any “valuable cards”, and was not aware the the odds of receiving valuable cards nor that the payments were not refundable. Harris’ lawyer argues minors have the right to disaffirm contracts, meaning they have the ability to nullify the contract or get a refund, under California Family Code. Furthermore, Harris’ lawyer also opposes other Blizzard business practices for Hearthstone, such as: not listing the odds of obtaining a valuable item, having no parental control features, and parents not having the right to receive a refund after a child uses their money without permission. Harris is currently seeking to metamorphose his individual lawsuit into a class-action because he believes “hundreds, if not thousands” of parents or individuals have the same complaints that he does.
Blizzard has responded to Harris’ lawsuit with their own filing to change the course of action for the lawsuit. At the moment, due to being filed in Orange County, the case resides in California State Superior Court. However, Blizzard contends that the case should be transferred over to the United States District Court in California’s central district because the company claims that is the case’s correct jurisdiction. Additionally, Blizzard also filed that Hearthstone has generated over $1 billion in revenue since its 2014 launch. Due to this large fan base, Blizzard would not reasonably have knowledge about which transactions were conducted with or without parental permission. While denying Harris’ claims made against them, Blizzard also asserts that if the case were to become class-action, damages would exceed $5 million. With that high of potential damages, the court case should be moved to the United States District Court in California’s central district.