Pokémon Go Coins Promoting Gambling to Minors, Class Action Lawsuit Alleges
According to a class action lawsuit submitted Friday in federal court in California, the popular online video game Pokémon Go creator encourages compulsive behaviors by enticing users, including many minors, with non-refundable in-app coin and loot box purchases.
Jarrett Reeves v. Niantic, Inc.
Jarrett Reeves, the lead plaintiff, claims he spent more than $250 buying coins as a minor and seeks to represent all Pokémon Go players statewide.
Reeves claims Niantic, the firm that created the “online augmented reality video game” five years ago, of generating a substantial profit stream on hundreds of millions of gamers spending real cash on in-app purchases in their quest to “catch ’em all.”
The class action lawsuit contends that this system was developed to profit from and promote compulsive habits similar to gambling.
While the game is technically free, Reeves claims that Niantic has made it nearly impossible to play Pokémon Go without spending currencies dubbed “PokéCoins” and loot boxes. The daily limit on free money is 50 PokéCoins, making it hard for players to advance.
PokéCoins are non-refundable, and the plaintiff alleges that Niantic encourages compulsive behavior in gamers, the majority of whom are children and teenagers, through limited-time specials and discounts for larger transactions. The class action lawsuit argues that a player can pay roughly $100 for 14,500 PokéCoins within the app.
According to the class action lawsuit, the PokéCoins system psychologically pulls players from the monetary implications of their in-game purchases by distancing actual money expenditures from the products purchased with their digital PokéCoins. It notes that minors have a tough time keeping track of expenses they splurge on Pokémon Go coins.
Niantic Exploitation of Juvenile Players
Pokémon Go players then use their PokéCoins to buy loot boxes containing various characters, virtual tools, and other items to aid them in their quests. Niantic updates these loot boxes on a regular basis.
According to Reeves, the real-world value of loot boxes is never revealed; he believes he would not have bought many loot boxes if he knew their value.
Additionally, Niantic simplifies the process of purchasing coins and loot boxes for Pokémon Go players by keeping credit card details in user accounts, according to Reeves.
Because a player can purchase PokéCoins virtually instantly, minors whose parents register and save their cards into a Pokémon account could use their parents’ credit cards to make an unlimited number of purchases, the class action lawsuit alleges.
Reeves wishes to represent those who played Pokémon Go before reaching 18 and acquired coins through purchases or other means between July 2016 and the present. He charges Niantic with unjust enrichment and violating consumer protection laws.
Additionally, the plaintiff alleges that Niantic violated laws protecting children and teenagers from making poor purchasing choices by selling non-refundable Pokémon Go coins.
The Pokémon Go coins class action lawsuit seeks to force Niantic to get parental consent prior to allowing minors to make in-app purchases and pay players who have purchased PokéCoins.
Editor’s Note on Pokémon Go Coins Class Action Lawsuit 2021:
This article is written to inform you of the class action lawsuit against Niantic, Inc. over allegedly promoting behavior similar to gambling to Pokémon players. This is not the first time someone has filed a case over gambling issues: recently, the court approved the Big Fish Casino Settlement.
Case Name & No.: Jarrett Reeves v. Niantic, Inc., Case No. Case 3:21-cv-05883
Jurisdiction: U.S. District Court – Northern District of California
Products/Services: In-app purchases
Allegations: Niantic, Inc. allegedly encouraged compulsive behaviors to Pokémon Go players with in-app coin and loot box purchases
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