Mobile gaming sensation Candy Crush is being accused of denying lives donated to players by their friends on Facebook, according to a federal class action lawsuit filed in March.
Alina Renert, the main plaintiff, has been playing the game, created by King Digital, since 2014.
Upon joining the craze, she connected Candy Crush to her Facebook. When players run out of lives, they can wait 30 minutes for new ones to appear. Or they can purchase a set of five lives for 99 cents.
A third option exists, too: using an in-app option to ask Facebook friends to donate lives. Like many others players, Renert appealed to the masses.
On multiple occasions, Renert’s friends answered her pleas. If she exited the app and returned, however, she found her donated lives missing, according to the complaint. As a result, she immediately purchased new lives to continue playing.
And Renert isn’t alone. The complaint lists comments from many other players left on messages boards:
- Had 3 lives on my phone a couple hours ago sent from friends but now they are gone. Why does this keep happening? I want my lives back!!!! — apcolter
- Keep loosing lives. Just lost 50. A few days ago, lost 22. Several times lost 5 to 10. Feel cheated. Please fix this. — vlr. 15
- I concur. They take them away on purpose so they have easier access to your wallet. They make a million a day w this game but they are greedy and want more. My 42 lives I had from FB friends just vanished into thin air. Guess what, the app will be deleted if they aren’t returned. King does not give a crap about anything other than getting your money. — johnthegreen
- Why in the  (double hockey sticks) don’t you work with Facebook so that we can use the lives we get from friends. As it is right now why even bother to send friends life and xtra moves if they just go bye bye!!!!!!! — bjwalter.
Due to the addictive nature of the game, King knew players would buy replacement lives, the complaint alleges. Therefore, King allegedly violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (ICFA).
Now, King owes players’ damages on two levels: the value of lost donated lives and the cost of purchasing new lives.
“This case challenges such intentional profiteering at the expense of customers,” the complaint reads.
Because an additional set of lives cost 99 cents, every life is worth about 20 cents. If King’s practices injured at least 25 million people, as the complaint alleges, the total damages would total above $US5 million, the amount necessary to elevate a class action lawsuit to the federal level.
“If we don’t settle at some point, there will be a day of reckoning,” lead attorney on the case Joseph Siprut told Business Insider.
Renert isn’t the first to claim that Candy Crush is psychologically addictive. One woman admitted she spent 10 consecutive hours playing the game.
“My back became strained because I’d been hunched for so long over my iPad. I couldn’t help it, it was so addictive. The extraordinary thing was that almost everyone else in the room admitted they too were addicted. Now we’re all competing,” she told the Daily Mail.
These players, the ones who can’t help but continue playing, undoubtedly helped catapult Candy Crush to near cult-status. In 2013, the game was the
most-downloaded app as well as the highest grossing in the app store. In December of the same year, it had an average of 93 million active users, which helped to generate $US1.9 billion in revenue for King.
King declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Apple recently settled a similar lawsuit concerning in-app purchases for $US100 million. Now, the company warns people before they make purchases within apps.
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