Losing your hard-earned cash playing Game of War’s virtual spinning wheel isn’t a real-world problem. That’s what a federal judge is ruling in dismissing a proposed class-action suit against the game’s maker, Machine Zone of Palo Alto, California.
The popular Android and iOS game is free to play, but players may purchase virtual “gold” to “improve their virtual towns and hasten their advancement in the game.” Real money is required to buy the digital gold, from $4.99 for 1,200 pieces to $99.99 for 20,000 pieces. With that gold, players can buy virtual “chips” to wager on a virtual casino-like spinning wheel. Gamblers win virtual prizes with every spin, from “wood” and “stone” to more chips and even “gold.” The suit charges that algorithms make it likely that gamblers will win “basic items” instead of more valuable ones like gold.
“On the surface, Plaintiff charges that Defendant trampled real and important rights and interests of hers, wrongfully and unlawfully, in an alternative, virtual world created by an electronic game,” US District Judge James Bredar ruled. “But a careful probe beneath the surface reveals a hodgepodge of hollow claims lacking allegations of real-world harms or injuries. Perceived unfairness in the operation and outcome of a game, where there are no real-world losses, harms, or injuries, does not and cannot give rise to the award of a private monetary remedy by a real-world court.”