>In a way, the digital giveaway could even be seen as an effective promotion, luring players back to the games and creating the potential for them to spend more on additional microtransactions down the road.
That. That's the part I need explained to me. Get punished, but use the punishment to hook players even more. How is this allowed?
But, this isn't even a punishment. In game currency isn't real. It doesn't cost the company anything. So, this is 'be found guilty and be forced to go back to your junkies and give them their next hit of crack for free.'
I can imagine the ad banners: "Thousands of players will win new loot, will you be one? Play to find out".
It's worse, like you said, the in-game currency isn't even real, unlike a hit the dealer has to hand out for free...
You can buy a car with bitcoin, but you cannot buy a car with fortnite bucks, that's generally the metric I use to tell how real a currency is and how usable it is.
And they're not giving everybody billions. They're forgoing some fraction of $.07B that represents the revenue they would have otherwise captured. My guess is the fraction of people who spend less on these games because they got a little free in-game currency is near-zero and they might actually see a bump in revenue because they can now send out a marketing blast telling inactive users they have a reason to come back.
In other words, it's not really comparable to any cryptocurrency. Heck, even Steam's stickers/pictures you can unlock by playing games are more of a currency as you can sell (and buy) them for real money.
This is like paying a settlement to employees in a company script instead of legal tender.
I wonder about that. The motive in the in-game economy is to have, and spend, more than other players, right? Handing out in-game money to all participants might disrupt things in that everyone can now buy the fancy in-game items, but the competitive/relative component presumably remains. If you want even more in-game items than other players, the dynamic is still there: you still need to pay up.
You could even mitigate the former by compensating players by providing them more currency in proportion to the pre-devaluation purchasing power of their virtual wallet.
Item prices are fixed by the developer, aren't they? edit I suppose that just kicks the stone down the road. There would still be devaluation in the sense that scarce and expensive items become commonplace.
However it is true that it only costs Epic the lost revenue from selling those v-bucks. If a freely-tradable currency was emitted to cover debt, you'd have the penalty of devaluation, but that is not the case here. Of course that makes no difference for the players, that's only about punishment.
I promise that when I joined a class action lawsuit over Nissan screwing me over, my goal wasn't to buy more Nissans. I would hazard a guess that many players who felt cheated enough by Epic to join a lawsuit against them likely feel similar.
It is real in the sense that you can chose where you spend it. While this is like coupons. It may have value but that is very limited and therefore does not qualify as currency.
You are pretty much assuming they are liable for the allegations in the complaint against them.
Settlements for low value are a sign that plaintiffs view their chances of success (including being awarded substantial damages) as being low.
So one way of looking at this is, Epic did nothing wrong, and they are giving away essentially nothing to make the plaintiff go away.
If plaintiffs thought they had a good case, they wouldn't take monopoly money.
> Additionally, the attorneys who brought the lawsuit (see FAQ 10) will ask the Court to award them attorney’s fees and expenses in an amount not to exceed $11,300,000.00, for the time, expense and effort expended in investigating the facts, litigation, and negotiating the Settlement. The Class Representatives will also ask the Court for a payment of up to $75,000 collectively for their time, effort, and service in this matter.
Not my cup of tea, but I run a mile from any game that requires I shovel cash into it to get ahead
Never used it, but I assume Dealer Keeps All Incentives applied.
(They had side-saddle gas tanks that increased the chances of a fire in an accident.)
If it was an individual suing Epic, and they agreed to go away in return for some shiny digital magic beans, you wouldn't see anything wrong with that. What's different if a million customers settle for it?
Customers can opt out of the class action, or start their own competing one. What would be a real problem is if other customers opted out, sued Epic individually, didn't settle, and the judge used the "payout" from the previous settlement to decide what a fair compensation would be. That hasn't happened here.
I bet the lawyers representing the class aren't getting paid in VBucks. There are really three sides - Epic, the consumers, and the lawyers.
The fact that class actions are opt-out instead of opt-in is a big part of the problem.
The conditions/clauses of the agreement must not be illegal.
Settlements are decided by a single class representative, and other class members are often not given notice of their right to opt-out or counter-sue.
The settlement is to pay off the lawyers and make the case go away.
I'm not that morally opposed to loot boxes and I don't believe any laws were broken. What kind of punishment are you looking for?
In theory, class action lawsuits are either or both 1) compensate victims 2) "force" company to stop activity society deems "bad"
Victims care about #1, the rest of us want #2 so we don't become victims in the future.
In this case, stop exploiting addiction and other human psychology for profit via loot boxes.
Using in game currency and not real money is absolutely not going to achieve this.
With epic game currency, it's just a bunch of bits that could be created without any resource use by the company. They could create 10x more game currency at no more cost to the company.
Basically you can scare the government into thinking the state’s actions will reduce competition (because your company wont exist anymore if you pay). The government uses so much energy trying to create/continue private sector competition that they don’t want to be directly responsible for creating closer to a monopoly of the remaining companies in the sector.
So they’ll accept these consequence free settlements, or even get behind settlements that actually are advertisements.
The court here is granting approval of the settlement.
Online gambling regulators.
Reminds me of the Equifax settlement which was a total scam. "Free Credit Monitoring" was BS, as Equifax was going to pay itself for the product, and everyone in the USA already has "Free Credit Monitoring" anyway. For leaking all of my personal details, I'd love to be paid for the time and money I've had to spend cleaning up their mistakes after Equifax hired a music major as the head of Information Security.
The settlement wasn't even cash, though. Did the lawyers get paid in V-Bucks? They should have been.
Anybody have a good idea of what proportion of class action lawsuits end up as "bad/not good enough for class members?"
Because anecdotally I think of a couple that had fairly reasonable-sounding payouts for class members. One was the Dow Corning breast implant settlement that ended up bankrupting Dow Corning and resulted in payments of $12,000 to $300,000 to class members depending on the exact symptoms suffered. Another was Collins v. United States which was settled for full back pay for all U.S. military veterans discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell since 2004.
Then finding a lawyer willing to go through the long and complex class action lawsuit will be even harder and/or more expensive, resulting in fewer class-action suits, meaning the punishment for these scams will be even more unlikely than it is now.
Even if lawyers got 100% of the settlement, class actions would still be worth it as deterrent.
But how does capping the settlement % that goes to the lawyers achieve that?
I remember discussions of this back on Slashdot during the Zip Drive click of death lawsuit where I eventually got a coupon for like $10 off my next IOMega purchase or something. Total bullshit.
The counter argument is that the companies need to be punished for their behavior, even if the victims aren't the ones who get the compensation in the end. I've thought that seems rather mercenary.
There was a "take the cash" option for that Equifax settlement, but nobody I know who opted for that ever saw a dime. I think they eventually weaseled out by saying that you had to prove in arbitration you were financially harmed by the breach to receive the cash or something.
Can you elaborate on this? The ones being paid are "the rich", but so are the people paying. The poor aren't getting much out of this, but it's not like they were going to get anything without a class action. After all, if you thought you could get more, you can always opt out of the class action and sue individually.
Likewise, getting an account banned for ToS violations at a storefront such as the App Store should not immediately strip you of all goods purchased on that storefront.
It also makes sense that Epic also requires a subsequent replacement account to be opened by a non-minor.
Two airlines that weren't part of the suit (Alaska and America West) agreed to accept the coupons since they didn't want to get left out.
Good example of dual morals.
I agree with Google about link taxes being bad, but I do not support Google itself.
I agree with Apple about Facebook's privacy violations being bad, but I do not support Apple itself.
I agree with Epic about Apple's restrictions regarding what users can do with their devices being bad, but I do not support Epic itself.
Companies are not heroes.
You might think there are problems with each company (I certainly do), but that doesn’t mean I need to agree with them in any way.
They are working backwards to conclusions that benefit them in particular, and framing the problem in those terms.
That is of course the right conclusion for them.
The chances are that those are the right conclusions for everyone else, are next to zero, since they have a systematic bias against reaching such a conclusion.
Also if their reasons are wrong, then their conclusion will be framed wrongly.
We do sometimes say someone did the right thing for the wrong reasons, but by definition we never say this while still ourselves buying into the logic they used to get there.
No they don't. They have a bias for reaching conclusions which benefit them. Full stop. Those conclusions may coincidentally benefit others, even if that was not part of their motivation.
What would you suggest? We should be in favor of a link tax purely to spite Google? We should surrender our privacy to Facebook just to stick it to Apple? We should protect Apple's ability to restrict what users can do with their devices as a display of contempt towards Epic?
Bizarre - I’m not sure what these suggestions have to do with me.
Epic doesn’t care about protecting users rights to do what they want with their devices.
Nothing they are proposing is about that.
All they are proposing is that they should be able to get a cut.
If Epic gets to run an App Store or payment gateway, Apple’s platform will still limit what users can do with their devices, so we can see that they don’t care about that.
Personally, I am happy for Apple’s customers to choose a closed platform if they like.
But, I am not happy that we have no open alternative.
Google promised us one, but reneged on that promise. Remember ‘open always wins’?
I don’t think it’s Apple’s responsibility to provide people with an open platform, nor do I think we should force our views on people who want a curated platform.
I think it’s up to the rest of us to build an open platform, if we want one.
‘The rest of us’ would include Epic, if they had an interest in user freedom.
I never said they do. They want users to be able to install iOS apps on from third party sources. Their motivation is that they simply want to avoid paying Apple's App Store fees. Our causes are aligned even though their intentions are entirely self-serving. They reached the right conclusion for the wrong reasons.
This is often repeated on HN, but is not true. They want a cut of those fees for themselves, which is why they want to run their own store and payment mechanism.
This is definitely no more aligned with the users than Apple.
Arguably it’s less aligned, since they don’t care what users experience with the platform is.
...which would require Apple to allow iOS users to install apps from third parties, right? How is that less aligned with users than Apple? What Epic plans to do once Apple's policy changes is irrelevant.
Therefore it simply isn’t in the interests of users in general.
That statement is false.
Secondly, which third parties would be allowed? What kind of stores?
It’s pretty obvious that there are many answers to these questions that would not be good for users.
So no, what Epic wants is definitely not ‘in the best interests of users’.
As I have said all along - it’s in the best interests of Epic, and nobody else.
If we want to think about what is in the best interests of ‘users’ that is a very broad and interesting space.
And as I have pointed out, imagining that we ‘agree’ with Epic on this, just means that we are supporting them and what they want.
Consider for a moment that what is in the best interests of users might have nothing to do with Apple, or the App Store.
Really it's that simple. There are no absolutely "good" humans or companies. They only have good and bad actions.
If the action is good short-term but bad long-term, then the decision becomes more interesting/difficult, but is still a decision on the action, not the reasons.
Who decides which actions are good and which are bad?
Presumably at the very least someone who understands the actions.
Without understanding the reasons for actions, we can only partially decide whether they are good or bad, because we cannot fully understand the actions themselves.
I like Epic's challenge of the mandatory app store and what it means for making mobile phones closer to real general purpose computing.
Don't expect consistency from companies, just treat them as actors with their own interests which sometimes align with yours and sometimes do not.
Ironically I dislike Epic’s challenge because I think it will take us further away from a healthy general purpose computing platform.
One of them makes games, the other two maintain a technological oligarchy that oversees our access to the entire population of smartphone users.
A car dealership might rip me off, but if car dealerships start pushing for a 3 or 4 day work week I'll be their best friend. (The car dealerships representing Epic and the soul sucking 5-day work week representing Apple and Google.)
Was Epic lying about the probabilities of getting rare items in these loot boxes? Or is it because "gambling" was marketed to children, in general? If the latter, why is this any different from similar non-online activities, like sweepstakes and raffles for children's toys?
I don't know how every MMO operator isn't clenching their butts at the outcome of this lawsuit. There are loads of Korean MMOs that really only have two things: Grind and Gamble Boxes. Three things if you count the Anime titties.
As such, that class action lawsuit is rather clickbait by itself. It rode on the popularity of "Fortnite BR" to make it look like Epic was selling tons of lootboxes to kids when the reality is they had so few players of Save The World it probably had a rather insignificant impact on kids getting exposed to gambling.
The deterrent effect on the guilty party is negligible, and the benefit to the public is nil.
The advocate could choose to fork over half of the settlement to the lawyers if they judge that that is it what is necessary to win, but they could also negotiate lower fees or hire another firm if they believe the lawyers are charging exhorbitant fees or otherwise not representing the best interests of the class.
HT @MikeUt https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26238726
Epic got off practically for free, and have probably already hired the nephews of the opposing lawyers.
Those lawyers should be disbarred.
A solution might be to require the lawyers to take payment in whatever the injured parties got. But since legislators are mostly lawyers, don't expect anything to be changed about this sort of cushy arrangement.
This is probably too Machiavellian, but it's not like the industry isn't rife with Gamble Boxes. There are a lot of companies that are basically dependent on gambling for the majority of their income.
Yes, the in-game currency settlement is awful, but the Ars Technica headline writer is making it sound more awful than it really is, because, quote:
In addition to the virtual currency, Epic will also be providing "up to $26.5 million in cash and other benefits to U.S.-based Fortnite and Rocket League players" to settle the claims.
> Each Settlement Class Member who timely submits a valid Claim Form will be entitled to receive their choice of either a cash award (up to $50 ...
The claim form isn't posted yet on the website. It has to be physically mailed in to the lawyers, with all your personal info. Of 10 million Rocket League and Fortnite players, how many do you think will actually mail that in? They're betting it's less than 1 in 20. I'd wager it's going to be more like 1 in 2000, which costs Epic just $0.25M, leaving $26.25M for the lawyers.
> Upon receipt of a Claim Form, the Settlement Administrator will determine your eligibility to receive an award. Depending on the number of Approved Claims, it is possible that each Settlement Class Member’s award will be reduced on a pro-rata basis after payment of settlement administration costs, attorney’s fees and expenses, and Incentive Awards to the Plaintiffs.
Even if the number of approved claims is not already small, the cash is for the lawyers first, Epic is paying the players primarily with in-game currency.
How much did the lawyers get paid?
They wish! This can be no more than an offer which must be accepted before it "applies". I just don't know if anyone will actually bring this to court rather than accept the offer.
I hate lootboxes, but what's the basis for damages?
> Epic was faced with a class-action lawsuit alleging, among other things, that it had "psychologically manipulate[d] its young players into thinking they will 'get lucky.'"
How is this legal ? Isn't the whole loophole around in-game currency not receiving gambling regulation is because the currency is NOT redeemable ?
Because this is a settlement of a lawsuit, rather than an independently-triggered regulatory action.
The lawyers and representative plaintiffs may agree to this because an in-game-points payment inflates the notional value of the settlement and thus the legal fees, but that group would be paid in cash based on a fraction of the settlement value.