BY: Charles Ash, IV | IN: Class Action & Commercial Litigation
Rise of Kingdoms is a mobile game wildly popular with players around the world. It is also a manipulative, deceptive, predatory, and illegal scheme designed to promote online gambling and exploit players, including minors, into spending large sums for bogus in-game purchases. That is the central allegation in a class action lawsuit recently filed in federal court in California.
The plaintiff and putative class – represented by Sommers Schwartz attorneys Charles Ash, IV, Trent Kashima, and Kevin Stoops – filed the lawsuit against Chinese videogame developer Lilith Games on December 18, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
“The defendant was deliberate and devious in its relentless efforts to milk profits from players through games of chance with deceptive odds, psychological manipulation, and other misrepresentations,” Ash says. “Lilith Games knowingly fleeced players across the country out of millions of dollars for its own enrichment.”
The complaint alleges that the defendant used deceptive and misleading representations to solicit in-game purchases from users once they began playing the game. The fraudulent nature of these solicitations arises from the fact that the chances of a player actually receiving the item solicited by the defendant were misrepresented and disingenuously low. The defendant represented many of its loot-box driven games as games of random chance, when, in fact, the odds of the various outcomes were predetermined by the defendant and not disclosed to the consumer. The complaint also alleges that the defendant’s games amount to a form of unregistered, fixed gambling in violation of California gaming laws.
The plaintiff also asserts that the defendant capitalized on in-game cheating by other players to maximize its profits. For example, the defendant was aware many players were engaged in “account sharing” (an act strictly prohibited by the game’s terms of service) but failed to take any action to stop it. Instead, the defendant was complicit in players cheating and actually took measures to capitalize on it by selling repair kits (“Fate Changer” bundles) to the players adversely affected by the cheating.
The named plaintiff in the putative class action lawsuit claimed he lost over $8,000 to the defendant’s schemes and asserted that tens of thousands of other individuals were similarly harmed by the defendant’s violations of California laws (the terms of service include a California choice of law clause). The lawsuit seeks redress on behalf of all individuals in the United States who have lost money while playing Lilith’s Rise of Kingdoms mobile game. Additional class members have already come forward, each seeking to recover thousands of dollars from the defendant. The class seeks unspecified monetary damages, restitution, and injunctive relief against the defendant.
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Charles R. Ash, IV is a Shareholder in Sommers Schwartz’s Complex Litigation groups. A substantial portion of Rob’s practice is devoted to collective and class actions arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and similar state laws.