Nintendo is facing a new lawsuit over its previous implementation of microtransactions in the mobile game Mario Kart Tour.
Mario Kart Tour first launched on iOS and Android in 2019 and used to have a loot box-like system where players could spend real money to activate Spotlight Pipes, which had undisclosed odds of granting players useful items and upgrades. Nintendo removed Spotlight Pipes from Mario Kart Tour in a September 2022 update, but Axios reports that a new class-action lawsuit has been filed against Nintendo over its previous implementation of them in the game.
The suit calls the mobile game’s microtransactions “immoral” and is based on the belief that the game was intentionally difficult to progress in without spending money. Its plaintiff believes this “capitalized on and encouraged addictive behaviors akin to gambling” in all players, specifically the minors that’d be interested in trying a Mario Kart game on mobile, with them having spent $170 on those microtransactions. As such, it suit is demanding Nintendo issue refunds to all minors who spent money on Spotlight Pipes when they were available in Mario Kart Tour.
The loot box-like style of microtransactions that used to be present in Mario Kart Tour was fairly common in a lot of games with microtransactions. That said, it has fallen out of favor in recent years thanks to increased scrutiny from regulators and lawsuits like this that argue the undisclosed odds tied to these systems are too similar to gambling. As such, microtransactions in many recent games tend to be more direct or actively disclose what players will get once they spend money.
Nintendo seemed to be aware of this when it removed Spotlight Pipes from Mario Kart Tour last year, but that clearly wasn’t enough for this plaintiff. Nintendo has not commented on this lawsuit, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on how this plays out.