Apple is facing a class-action lawsuit regarding loot boxes in its apps. The lawsuit claims that those loot boxes are an illegal form of gambling under California’s Penal Code. The lawsuit threatens billions of dollars in revenue from Apple. It may also alter the way mobile games operate.

Apple's App Store involved in the loot box lawsuit.
Apple’s App Store involved in the loot box lawsuit.
Image Credit: europeangaming

The lawsuit is taking place in Northern California. Under California Penal Code ยง 330, many different forms of gambling are prohibited. However, the current lawsuit focuses on illegal “slot machines or devices.” There are four requirements for a “slot machine” under the Penal Code. They are:

  1. It is a machine, aperture, or device.
  2. It requires a monetary item from the user to operate.
  3. It operates on an element of hazard or chance.
  4. The user may be entitled to a thing of value.

The lawsuit argues that the loot boxes of Apple’s apps meet these requirements. The iPhone itself is the device, meeting the first requirement. The loot boxes require either direct or indirect payment through in-game coins. This meets the second. There is chance involved in which prize the user receives. This meets the third requirement. Lastly, the prize will often be of value. This fulfills the fourth and final requirement.

The lawsuit mentions loot boxes from Mario Kart Tour, Fifa Soccer, Roblox, and Brawl Stars. These four games have a variety of uncommon types of loot boxes. Thus, the lawsuit will apply to the largest number of games possible.

A card pack from Fifa Soccer. The lawsuit classifies such packs as loot boxes.
The results of a “card pack” opened in the Fifa Soccer app. The lawsuit classifies such packs as loot boxes.
Image Credit: EA

Besides California’s Penal Code, the lawsuit also cites the Government of Belgium’s classification of loot boxes. In 2018, the Government of Belgium outlawed paid loot boxes in video games. They claimed that loot boxes contained “all of the constitutive elements of gambling.” These included “game, wager, chance, and win/loss.”

The lawsuit against loot boxes doesn’t stop there, however. It continues to make claims about the immorality of such practices. It accuses Apple of “creating addictive behaviors in kids to generate huge profits.” The lawsuit even compares loot boxes to “Big Tobacco’s ‘Joe Camel’ advertising.”

However, the lawsuit acknowledges that Apple is not the creator of the loot boxes. Although, it continues to point out that Apple takes a 30% cut from all loot box profits. This causes billions of dollars of revenue for Apple. Thus, the lawsuit labels Apple as “the agent” in the sale of loot boxes.

The lawsuit results could cost Apple a sizeable amount of money. Loot boxes in its apps are a significant source of income for Apple, as outlined in the lawsuit. A ruling against Apple would cause the loss of billions of dollars.

The court ruling could also affect the players of these games. Loot boxes are a major mechanic in many video games. The forced removal of loot boxes could significantly alter how many games work. Apple may also just remove some apps altogether.

What do you think of the lawsuit? Would you like to see loot boxes removed from Apple’s apps? Let me know what you think in the comments! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the Aroono newsletter for more content.