Epic Games is being sued yet again over Fortnite, but for once it's not because of funky dance emotes. A lawsuit filed on behalf of an underage Fortnite fan, available via The Verge, alleges that Fortnite Save the World's "Llama" loot boxes are part of a "predatory scheme" in which Epic hooks players by selling the game at a lower-than-normal price point, and then squeezes them for microtransaction money.
"Because Fortnite Save the World’s game progression is inextricably linked to loot progression, players are pushed to keep seeking better loot to progress in the game. Accordingly, Epic designed Fortnite Save the World to effectively limit a player’s ability to progress within the game without spending money on loot boxes," the lawsuit claims.
"The scheme plays out perfectly to the benefit of Epic: once players are sufficiently invested in the game, Epic induces players to purchase loot boxes in order to get better loot, which results in massive revenue to Epic."
The lawsuit compares Llamas, and loot boxes in general, to slot machines, saying that Epic "psychologically manipulates its young players into thinking they will 'get lucky'," even though it knows—and its "young players" do not—that the odds of receiving high-end rewards are incredibly low.
"Epic’s prominent display of the most valuable (and exceedingly rare) loot in every Llama, coupled with its failure to disclose the odds of winning the most valuable loot, constitute deceptive and misleading representations that deceive consumers into purchasing Llamas based on their reasonable reliance on Epic’s representations," the suit states. "Had Plaintiff known the odds of receiving the desired loot in Llamas were virtually nil, he would not have purchased them."
The lawsuit explains "Fortnite Fever," and it does actually differentiate—very briefly—that Save the World, which the lawsuit is about, is different and separate from the far more successful and popular Battle Royale mode. There's also quite a dive into "the rise of loot boxes," which notes their tremendous value to the industry before accusing them of being "plagued with deception, misrepresentations, and exploitation."
From there, the suit gets into topics including "The Importance of Schematics, Heroes, and Survivors," V-Bucks, the different types of Llamas in Fortnite Save the World, and "The Psychology and Manipulation of Loot Boxes." It also includes several quotes from players unhappy with the results of their Llama purchases and their inability to progress in the game without spending more money: One player claims to have spent $233 on Llamas without receiving a single legendary/mythic item.
"The reality is while players expect to receive top-tier loot, they don't get it," the suit states. "This causes players, especially minors, to continue to spend money seeking that next gold Llama or mythic item when it reality the odds are undisclosed and heavily weighed against them."
The lawsuit covers the loot box controversy of the past year pretty thoroughly—it also points out that loot boxes have come under government scrutiny in the US, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Australia—but one of its central claims is actually out of date: Epic began disclosing Upgrade Llama odds in February, with the 7.30 update.