Epic Games will be distributing an estimated 9.4 billion V-Bucks, the digital currency in Fortnite, and Rocket League digital credits to players as part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit against the company.
The lawsuit seeks damages for gamers who paid for random loot boxes in Fortnite by Epic Games and Rocket League by their subsidiary developer Psyonix. In a statement Monday, Epic Games said, “while some of you enjoyed purchasing random item Loot Llamas and being surprised by the content unlocked, others were disappointed. So we decided a better experience for players was to be upfront and outline the details of in-game purchases – through the Item Shop and with new “X-Ray” Llamas.”
Epic explained that every player who purchased even one random loot-box will have 1,000 V-bucks (a $10 USD value) added to their account with no action needed.
We believe players should know upfront what they are paying for when they make in-game purchases. This is why today we only offer X-Ray Llamas that show you the contents before you purchase them in Save the World.
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) February 22, 2021
Epic’s doling of V-bucks, however, is a preliminary action; this means plaintiffs in the case will receive another, certainly more substantial, monetary reward. Epic’s move was done in good-faith, and will technically not classify as benefits for plaintiffs in their pending class action suit.
The V-bucks grant is for all Fortnite players globally while the class action suit against Epic can only apply to United States players.
The proposed settlement by Epic allows for up to $26.4 million in cash refunds to be given out to both players who purchased loot-boxes as well as to pay both sides’ legals fees. In addition to the money returned to plaintiffs, Epic’s proposed settlement allows for any player who thinks they were harmed by the random loot-boxes to submit a claim to Epic, which will review it for legitimacy. Those rewards will be up to $50. Players can file a claim here.
Epic Games has come out as one of the loudest industry protesters against predatory random loot-boxes, citing their gambling elements and targeting toward minors. The company pulled all of their random loot-boxes in 2019 and replaced them with systems that allowed players to see what items they are purchasing ahead of time. When Epic purchased Psyonix and Rocket League, they also replaced the game’s loot-box system with one similar to Fortnite‘s where players know what they are purchasing ahead of time.
Epic’s crusade is matched by several governments, which agree that random loot-boxes are indeed gambling. Belgium ruled in 2018 that randomized loot-boxes constitute gambling, and the United Kingdom has had multiple fights attempting to reclassify the FIFA series’ loot-boxes as gambling.
Epic is settling the suit against them in the most amicable and constructive way possible. By refunding not only United States players, but all global players, Epic Games is taking a stand that they regret using random loot-boxes. Compared to other industry players like Vavle, which ignored multiple requests from the European Union in when they were found guilty of breaking EU sanctions, Epic’s speedy and generous response ought to be remembered.