As reported by Polygon(opens in new tab), an Arizona father has brought a potential class action lawsuit against Blizzard over the sale of Hearthstone card packs to minors.
Lawyers of the father, Nathan Harris, filed a complaint in the Superior Court of Orange County on behalf of his daughter and other minors who have bought Hearthstone’s randomized card packs. Harris’ suit alleges that his daughter used his credit and debit cards to spend over $300 on card packs between 2019 and 2021. The suit argues that Blizzard’s lack of refund policy and parental controls is in breach of “disaffirmation law,” or the right to renounce a contract, as it applies to minors through the California Family Code.
Blizzard filed its own complaint on May 17 outlining some counterarguments, as well as requesting that the case be moved from the Superior Court of Orange County to the higher-level Central District of California. Blizzard argues that the company “does not know, and would have no way of accurately knowing, which Hearthstone in-game transactions were initiated by minors using parental credit or debit cards, as Plaintiff claims to have done.” The complaint continues, “Blizzard does not concede, and in fact disputes, that such transactions fall within the scope of any state’s disaffirmation law.”
The company also argues that the “unknowable portion” of Hearthstone’s $1 billion revenue made up of sales to minors would only have to make up “one half of one percent” of that revenue to exceed the $5 million threshold to move the case from the Orange County court to the Central District of California.
Legal action on loot boxes has largely been a nonstarter in the United States, with Blizzard successfully moving a 2020 lawsuit(opens in new tab) covering Overwatch loot boxes to arbitration, while European regulations against loot boxes fall in line with the EU’s broadly digital consumer protections.
In 2022, gaming loot boxes have largely become outmoded(opens in new tab), at least in the PC space, with battle passes or direct purchases becoming more the norm. The controversy over their resemblance to online gambling is now a bit ironic given the increasing prevalence of literal, legal online gambling in the US, but at least DraftKings and the Caesars Sportsbook don’t have such an explicit appeal to children.
Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister’s copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he’s not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.