CHICAGO (CN) - Candy Crush players are purposely denied "lives" donated by their Facebook friends to induce them to shell out cash, a federal class action alleges.
Alina Renert, a Cook County woman who says she has been playing the popular game on her iPad since 2014, is the lead plaintiff in the March 2 complaint against King.com and the foreign entities behind "Candy Crush Saga."
In 2013, the game generated $1.9 billion in revenue for King. Candy Crush boasted approximately 93 million daily active users in December 2013, when gamers played over 1 billion games per day, the class claims.
Renert attributes "this massive revenue" to in-app purchases users make to buy virtual items for the game.
In Candy Crush, for example, a player can buy five lives for 99 cents instead of waiting for the game to load new lives every 30 minutes.
Candy Crush's huge financial success demonstrates the fact that "many players ... do not want to wait thirty minutes for additional lives due to the addictive nature of the game," according to the complaint.
Players can also circumvent the 30-minute wait for lives by asking their Facebook friends who also play Candy Crush to donate a life.
Renert says lives in Candy Crush thus have an "ascertainable value equal to approximately $0.20."
Since King began removing donated lives from players' accounts in 2013, however, players have been essentially robbed of virtual items that have a real-world cash value, the complaint alleges.
Renert says she had three donated lives when she exited Candy Crush, but found them gone upon returning to the game, and had to purchase lives instead. She quotes a number of other players complaining online about the same problem.
"As a consequence of King's conduct, players bought replacement lives through In-App Purchases as substitutes for the lives improperly removed by King, thus enriching King," the complaint states. "This case challenges such intentional profiteering at the expense of consumers."
The class seeks punitive damages for computer fraud, violation of state consumer protection laws, breach of implied contract, and unjust enrichment.
It is represented by Joseph Siprut with Siprut PC.
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