Video Game Addiction Lawsuits

Video game addiction has become a growing concern in recent years following the growth of sophisticated, online gaming. Addiction to gaming has caused significant harm to individuals in various age groups and demographics, but particularly to adolescents.

Individuals who have been harmed by video game addiction are now filing lawsuits against the video game manufacturers. The lawsuits seek to hold the gaming companies liable for negligently failing to warn users about the potential for their games to be addictive.

Addiction to Video Games

Video game addiction, also known as internet gaming disorder, significantly impairs an individual’s control over gaming, often prioritizing it over essential life activities that negatively affect self-care, relationships, and productivity at school or work. This addiction disrupts cognitive functions like time perception and decision-making and leads to social withdrawal, excessive anger, and a lack of interest in other hobbies.

The issue is worsening globally, particularly with the rise of online and cloud gaming, which provides easy access to games that often include in-game purchases, intensifying the addiction, particularly among minors and young adults. This widespread problem is largely driven by gaming companies intentionally designing games to be addictive to increase profits through in-game transactions or “microtransactions.”

Lawsuits for Video Game Addiction

Legal actions are being taken against these companies, accusing them of employing deceptive practices that prioritize profit over user safety, especially targeting young individuals to secure a future consumer base. These practices have led to significant emotional and social issues for affected individuals, requiring extensive treatments and interventions.

The video game addiction lawsuits seek to hold video game companies liable based on a failure to warn theory. The lawsuits assert that the video game companies had a duty to warn users that their games could potentially be addictive and habit-forming, and that this addiction could be harmful.

Consequences and Injuries from Video Gaming Addiction

Video gaming addiction has been linked to a number of adverse health consequences and injuries. The harms caused by video game addiction include:

  • Social Isolation: individuals who become addicted to video games end up withdraw from social contact, which can negatively impact their social skills and development
  • Anxiety and Depression: evidence has show that excessive gaming is linked to higher rates of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
  • RSI: Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) can often occur in the hands and wrists from excessive use of controllers.
  • Sleep Disruption: Video game addiction can result in lack of sleep which leads to various other health issue.
  • Aggression: video game addiction has been shown to cause excessive aggression (known as “gamer’s rage”) and uncontrollable anger
  • School and Job Issues: addiction to video games frequently results in academic and job failures.

The Core of the Video Game Lawsuit Allegations

The crux of these lawsuits is that these games target minors and young adults. Plaintiffs claim that each defendant deliberately designed their products to exploit vulnerable users’ inability to appreciate risks, making the products exceptionally addictive. Specific allegations include the use of psychological tactics like random rewards and social components to enhance addictiveness.  So the product liability angles are defective design and failure to warn.

Plaintiffs argue that these design defects existed from the product’s conception through to its release to the public. So when these products were used by kids as intended, kids fell prey to their addictive nature due to the defendants’ failure to provide adequate warnings.

It is claimed, and it is hard to deny, that each defendant could have employed alternative, less harmful designs or features to reduce the risk of addiction and other negative impacts, albeit probably slightly less profitably (while still in the many billions). These alternatives include not using addictive patents in game design, implementing robust age verification systems, effective parental controls, and providing warnings about health effects.

As a direct consequence of these alleged design defects, children suffered physical injuries, mental harm, emotional distress, and economic damages. These injuries, as outlined, were a foreseeable result of the defendants’ actions in creating

Who Are the Defendants in the Video Game Lawsuits?

The defendants in the video game addiction lawsuits include all of the major players in the multi-billion dollar gaming industry.

  1. Epic Games, Inc. – Known for developing and selling the Fortnite series.
  2. Roblox Corporation – Associated with the development and sale of the Roblox series.
  3. Activision Blizzard, Inc. – Developers of the Call of Duty series.
  4. Infinity Ward, Inc. – Also involved in developing and marketing the Call of Duty series.
  5. Treyarch Corp. – Another contributor to the Call of Duty series.
  6. Sledgehammer Games, Inc. – Part of the team behind Call of Duty.
  7. Raven Software Corporation – Also engaged in the Call of Duty series development and distribution.
  8. War Drum Studios LLC d/b/a Grove Street Games – Known for the Grand Theft Auto series.
  9. Rockstar North Limited – A primary developer of the Grand Theft Auto series.
  10. Rockstar Games, Inc. – Involved in the Grand Theft Auto series.
  11. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. – The parent company of Rockstar Games and Rockstar North, involved in Grand Theft Auto.
  12. Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC – Alleged to have contributed to the distribution and marketing of the involved games through its PlayStation platform.
  13. Microsoft Corporation – Discussed in the context of the Xbox console and its services, which also distribute and market the implicated games.
  14. Nintendo of America, Inc. – Similar involvement through its Nintendo Switch console and related services.

Why Is Call of Duty Such a Focus of the Litigation?

Call of Duty, a first-person shooter game series launched in 2003, immerses players in infantry and combined arms warfare. Promoted by Activision as a gripping, high-intensity saga featuring immersive narratives and covert operations, the game is celebrated for its ultimate online multiplayer experience. To date, there are 22 mainline versions of the game, making it the most successful video game franchise in the U.S. and the fourth best-selling globally, with over 400 million copies sold.  It is advertised everywhere.

Each version of Call of Duty maintains a consistent gameplay experience but offers unique stories, weaponry, and capabilities. Developed by Activision and its subsidiaries—Raven, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer Games—the series is renowned for its engaging single-player and multiplayer modes. Unique to Call of Duty is its addictive gameplay mechanics, such as unlock progression systems that reward players with new equipment and capabilities as they advance, enhancing replayability and engagement.

Call of Duty is a focal point of this litigation because research suggests that frequent players may experience neural desensitization to violence. This should surprise no one.

The game’s design, which includes sophisticated reward systems and feedback loops created with input from psychologists and neuroscientists, is intended to maximize player retention and spending. These elements, along with microtransactions and in-game purchases like loot boxes and battle passes, are seen as tactics to boost profits, raising real concerns about the ethical implications of such strategies.

Moreover, the Call of Duty games employ patented technologies to increase the addictive qualities of the games. The purpose? To secure a long-term revenue stream from players, especially minors, of course.  Despite the known risks of addiction and other negative consequences, the developers do not fully disclose these to players.  This puts profits over children. These lawsuits allege that the game’s developers engage in deceptive practices to exploit players, and they are responsible for the very foreseeable consequences.

Grand Theft Auto Is Also a Pressure Point in this Litigation

Grand Theft Auto is a well-known series of action-adventure games that immerse players in an expansive open world. Developed primarily by Rockstar North, with contributions from Grove Street Games for the latest installment, the series is published by Rockstar Games. The gameplay involves progressing through the main story by completing missions and engaging in a variety of side activities. The character, as the name of the game suggests, is not one of the good guys.

Available on multiple platforms including PC, Mac, various gaming consoles, and mobile devices, Grand Theft Auto has captivated over 30 million players worldwide. Specifically, Grand Theft Auto V, released in 2013, stands as the second best-selling video game of all time with over 185 million copies sold, contributing to the franchise’s revenue of over $8.33 billion since its launch.

Each game in the series features a unique protagonist navigating the criminal underworld, driven by motives often tied to themes of betrayal. The games are enriched with contributions from film and music celebrities who voice characters, enhancing the narrative depth.

The developers have focused on delivering high-quality graphics, a compelling storyline, and intuitive controls. Players can indulge in countless activities within the game such as skydiving, playing darts, and watching movies, ensuring a never-ending source of entertainment. The games also feature realistic replicas of famous supercars, adding to the allure and driving player engagement and spending on in-game items like cars, guns, and clothes.

Grand Theft Auto offers various gameplay modes, including free-mode missions and competitive adversary modes where players can race across the game map. Special events often offer enhanced rewards, encouraging increased playtime. Additionally, cooperative modes allow players to team up for missions, increasing social interaction and commitment to the game. In-game purchases enable players to acquire luxury items and upgrades, further immersing them in the virtual world.

None of this is awful per se. But the game has intentionally addictive qualities and the developers knew or had reason to know of the potential negative impact on players’ mental and physical health. The developers are criticized in these lawsuits adequately informing players or parents about the game’s addictive nature and its potential harms, focusing instead on maximizing profit through continual engagement and spending within the game.

Contact Us About Video Game Addiction Lawsuits

Our firm is seeking video game addiction lawsuits across the country. If you have suffered physical or mental harm as a result of video game addiction, call us today for a free case evaluation. Call us at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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