The suit calls for refunds for all minors in the US who paid to use Mario Kart Tour's "Spotlight Pipes," which delivered players in-game rewards using undisclosed odds. Until last year, Mario Kart Tour players could spend real money to repeatedly activate the pipes, hoping they'd randomly produce helpful upgrades.
The suit alleges that Nintendo intentionally made the game difficult to proceed in without paying, using "dark patterns," an industry term for tricking consumers, to steer players toward spending more.
The suit was filed in March but emerged on the federal docket last week after it was moved out of state court. Its plaintiff, N.A., spent more than $170 on Mario Kart Tour microtransactions, via his father's credit card, which was linked to their Nintendo user account. "Defendant's loot box mechanism capitalised on and encouraged addictive behaviours akin to gambling," according to N.A.'s suit. It states that minors are particularly susceptible to systems that involve surprise rewards.
Axios notes that Nintendo "discontinued use of spotlight pipes in Mario Kart Tour last September, switching to a system that lets players directly purchase items offered in its in-game shop."