In a proposed class-action suit settlement, Epic Games will be paying in-game currencies and cash to qualified players of Fortnite and Rocket League, after it was sued over the randomized items in Loot Llamas and Loot Crates. The settlement is pending approval from the courts citing that the plaintiffs and Epic are "avoiding expenses and uncertainties associated with litigation".
What Are Loot Llama and Loot Crates?
Loot boxes require little introduction, as the monetization scheme has been at the center of many game controversies in the past few years. The idea is that players spend a given amount of in-game - or real - currency on a package of randomized rewards. Maybe you'll get something particularly rare and valuable, but usually you won't. Widespread implementation of loot boxes drew the attention of gambling watchdogs and efforts to ban them have been successful in many regions.
Loot Llama were Fortnite's take on loot boxes, initially having randomized rewards. As crackdowns on loot boxes became more widespread, Epic introduced X-Ray Llamas, which allow players to see the possible content of the loot box - which now excluded items the player already owned - and imposed a daily purchase limit of one.
Rocket League also had paid randomized Loot Crates that were changed into Blueprints. Blueprints are dropped at the end of matches and can be turned into items by spending in-game currency, with the key difference being that players knew what a Blueprint would yield before investing said currency.
Prior to these changes in 2019, Valve had drastically changed its loot box system in DOTA 2, after intense pressure from regulatory boards from various countries in Europe in 2018. These changes included disclosing what items a loot box might drop as well as percentage chances for each item.
This was seen by the industry observers as the precautionary tale that pushed Rocket League and Fortnite to revise their loot box systems. Epic Games stated on social media that the changes were made in favor of promoting transparency, and that they "believe players should know upfront what they are paying for when they make in-game purchases".
What Are The Contents Of The Settlement?
Epic Games "denies each and every allegation of wrongdoing, liability, and damages asserted in the Action, and Epic Games denies that the claims in the Action would be appropriate for class treatment if the litigation were to proceed through trial." This is par the course for such lawsuits, but Epic has proposed a settlement which offers compensation for those customers who purchased Loot Llama or Loot Crates before the transparency changes were implemented. All players who have purchased a Loot Llama in Fortnite will automatically receive 1,000 V-Bucks, while applicable customers will receive 1,000 Credits in Rocket League.
The settlement offers $26.5 Million in cash and other benefits for consumers based in the United States who bought the loot boxes and believe that their purchase gave rise to a claim of consumer fraud, breach of contract, or claim for damages. Those customers who wish to obtain a partial refund for a purchase made by a minor without parental permission can claim from these additional terms in the settlement. Expected rewards for successful and qualified claimants are $50 USD, 13500 V-Bucks, or 13000 Rocket League Credits. You can check the terms of the settlement here.
What Are The Digital Rewards For The Settlement?
Although the lawsuit only involves consumers in the United States of America, Epic Games has stated that international players will also receive the 1,000 currency compensation in eligible games. However, the settlement does not scale with the purchases - the same amount of digital currency will be given to you regardless of the fact that you bought multiple loot boxes when they were made available.
Going by current pricing, 1000 V-Bucks is equivalent to approximately $8, while 1000 Credits are worth $9.10. Paying out digital currencies is a cost saving measure on Epic's part, as adding these currencies to player accounts doesn't really cost the company anything. Many affected accounts are no longer in use which will leave the compensation unused, while other recipients may not have planned to purchase further currencies anyway. Essentially, this settlement leaves Epic with a negligible loss.
Utilizing settlements as quasi-promotional ventures is a tried and true tactic, as there is a chance that the news of the "free" in-game currencies being paid out will attract lapsed players back to these titles, who may then end up spending more on in-game currencies. We'll have to wait and see if the settlement is approved, however.