Mario Kart Tour’s lootboxes, present in the game until last September, “encouraged addictive behaviours” according to a class action lawsuit filed against Nintendo.
A young Mario Kart Tour player is suing Nintendo over the “immoral” use of microtransactions in its mobile game.
According to Axios, the lawsuit sprang from an incident in which the plaintiff – based in the USA – ran up a bill of $170 on his father’s credit card. The suit argues that Nintendo’s “lootbox mechanism capitalised on and encouraged addictive behaviours akin to gambling”.
Until the feature was withdrawn from the game in September 2022, Mario Kart World Tour contained Spotlight Pipes. In exchange for 45 Rubies (the game’s in-game currency, purchased using real-world cash) players could fire said pipe ten times, which in turn unlocked random upgrades and other items. Since the Spotlight Pipes feature was taken out, players can now simply select and purchase items from an in-game shop.
“[Nintendo] marketed and sold these Pipes for real-world currency to players, including minors such as the Plaintiff,” the lawsuit reads. “The Pipes were advertised in-game as possibly containing valuable unlockable prizes… Players such as Plaintiff were not told in advance what is inside any particular Pipe or the odds of wining something which may be contained in the Pipe, thereby were functionally gambling on the chance of winning some valuable prize.”
The lawsuit argues that Mario Kart World Tour’s prior use of microtransactions was “immoral”, and might even violate Washington State and California’s consumer protection and business laws.
Axios also reveals that the legal team behind the Mario Kart case has form when it comes to video game-based lawsuits; it previously filed against Take Two Interactive over microtransactions last October, though the case was eventually settled.
Lootboxes have, of course, been a contentious element in games for a while now, with some countries – including Belgium – even banning the use of them outright. Last December, the Federal Trade Commission fined Fortnite’s Epic Games $520 million for using “dark patterns” to “dupe millions of players into making unintentional purchases”.