In a groundbreaking lawsuit, Microsoft and Epic Games, two of the world’s largest video game companies, are being sued for knowingly causing video game addiction in kids. The lawsuit, filed in Arkansas on October 30, 2023, alleges that the companies use “patented designs, algorithms and marketing containing addictive features and technology” to keep players engaged, including minors.
As found by Insider Gaming, the lawsuit also claims that the companies collect data on minors without parental consent and use predatory monetization schemes to target them. For example, the lawsuit alleges that Microsoft and Epic Games use “loot boxes,” which are in-game items that players can purchase with real money but don’t know what they’re getting until they open them. This can lead to players spending large amounts of money in an attempt to get the items they want.
There are definitely cases of companies going too far with Loot Boxes, with EA being in the news for it before, but Epic Games and Microsoft are an interesting choice. The lawsuit was filed by Casey Dunn, the mother of a child who allegedly became addicted to video games. Dunn says that her son’s education, social life, and physical and mental health have all suffered as a result of his addiction.
“These video game companies have targeted and taken advantage of kids, prioritizing their profit over all else. As a mom, I knew I had to do something to ensure they don’t get away with destroying the wellbeing and futures of our children.”
The Dunn family is suing for monetary recovery, changes to how games are designed and offered, and additional mental health resources for families faced with trying to treat young children addicted to gaming. The lawsuit is still in its early stages, and neither Microsoft nor Epic Games have commented on it.
The case has the potential to have a major impact on the video game industry. If the lawsuit is successful, it could force video game companies to change the way they design and market their games, particularly to minors. It could also lead to increased regulation of the video game industry.
This is the major issue here, Dunn wants to change the industry and its standards but is attacking two companies that you wouldn’t expect to see here. EA is arguably a way better target for this but cases against them have failed before. It also brings up the other side, which is that it is up to the parent to regulate what their kids consume.
It’s a really big deal and likely will end in a settlement because it’s one family against two huge companies with armies of lawyers.