The suit claims that the companies have misled customers about the cost of in-app purchases in the game State of Survival.
Since its release in 2019, State of Survival has generated over a billion dollars in revenue worldwide. However, the claimants state that the game advertises discounts on in-game purchases, as well as lying about sales to encourage purchases.
"In its direct marketing to consumers (including representations made at the time of purchase), FunPlus advertises false former prices to induce players into believing they must act quickly to take advantage of a limited-time sale price," reads the lawsuit.
"FunPlus never sells these items at their [original] price, it just offers false discounts from an original price that did not exist, and its players bought packs on “sale” that were the same prices they would ordinarily pay."
The price of business
Under California law - where the lawsuit was filed - false pricing schemes are illegal, and plaintiffs Kimberly Surette, Staci Turner and Angela Prado argue that they wouldn’t have made purchases at a discount cost had they known that the discounts didn’t exist. The trio state that the game’s ads promise limited-time discounts which have been listed for years. By doing so, developer KingsGroup and publisher FunPlus are misleading consumers into believing that they’re getting a bargain on their purchases, when in fact they’re paying full price.
In a press release, law firm Pollock Cohen LLC - representing the plaintiffs alongside Jay Kumar Law and Kronenberger Rosenfeld LLC - states that the game advertises discounts of up to 99 percent, in one case claiming that a bundle pack costing at $9.99 was originally priced at $997.40. The same legal team are also representing plaintiffs in a similar suit against Warner Bros. related to Game of Thrones: Conquest.
“Mobile games are highly addictive. Right? I mean, gaming has always been a problem for addiction. But now on mobile phones, the ease of access, notifications, advertising, I think it's really, it's, it's really easy for these games to hook players,” said Pollock Cohen associate Raphael Janove. “ And what we see here in this lawsuit with the pervasive false advertising. Companies like FunPlus are just raking in obscene amounts of money from what should not be an expensive game to play.”
“There's been a trend in the development of video games over the past several decades,” said Jay Kumar Law founder Jay Kumar. “I mean, when video games were first, a mass market thing, you would do it pay a discreet amount of money, and you would receive the rights to play a video game. And then, as video games became online you would have games like Runescape, or World of Warcraft, or you would pay a subscription fee per month, but everyone is paying the same amount. But now, game developers in the mobile game era have decided, well, let's just extract as much money as we can from every consumer.”
In August, we listed FunPlus as one of 2022’s top 50 mobile game makers.