After the loot boxing affair Overwatch and recently after the disappearance of Diablo Immortal from Android and iOS stores in Belgium in the Netherlands, it is now up to Hearthstone to be in turmoil. The case is relatively inconspicuous in Europe, but on the other side of the Atlantic, Blizzard faces a potential class action lawsuit over the Hearthstone decks.
As Polygon explains, Nathan Harris, an Arizona resident of the United States, has hired a lawyer to sue Blizzard in court. In fact, it is a proposed class action lawsuit filed with a California court.
It all starts with Nathan Harris’ daughter arriving in Hearthstone in 2019. Over the next three years, she will spend over $ 300 using her father’s credit card without parental consent to purchase the packages.
The lawyer argues that the minor did not know the chances of getting good cards and did not know that she could not be reimbursed. According to the lawsuit, she apparently “almost never received value cards.”
As you know, Hearthstone is a free game, but you can spend money on buying decks of cards whose content and value to players is very random. In this sense, it is a kind of prey box, an element highly questioned by some elected officials around the world, including the United States Federal Trade Commission.
According to lawyer Mr. Harris, minors have the right to “reject the contract,” that is, to withdraw from it or receive compensation, according to the California Family Code. The complaint also concerns the fact that Blizzard Entertainment has not published an evaluation of these packages, that it has not implemented “parental control functions” and that minors and their parents are entitled to a refund. Harris and his lawyer are asking the court to grant the case class action status, which means it could involve all minors who have ever purchased a pack of Hearthstone cards for real money. According to the complaint, this represents “hundreds, if not thousands” of people.
On the Blizzard side, we defend ourselves by explaining that the game has generated more than $ 1 billion in revenue since its launch in 2014. The number of players is colossal and, according to the company, it is not clear whether minors shopped on TCG, with or without parental consent.
Blizzard is currently seeking to refer the case to a U.S. district court in the Central District of California, which, according to the company’s lawyers, has more jurisdiction.
In recent years, several companies have been forced to go to justice. In 2021, the Epic Games agreed to remove certain items from Fortnite and return the 1000 V-Bucks to all players who won the “Loot Llamas.”
Epic Games removed blind loot boxes from Fortnite completely in 2019. The settlement also included $ 26.4 million in juvenile refunds – available in cash for $ 50 or 13,500 V-Bucks.
The case is far from over and it will be interesting to follow other events.