Nov 27, 2023 - Technology

Take-Two sued over NBA 2K microtransactions

Video game screenshot of basketball players competing

NBA 2K 21, released in September 2020 and taken offline in December 2022. Screenshot: 2K Games/Take-Two Interactive

Game publisher Take-Two Interactive is being accused of "theft" in a new class-action complaint over microtransactions in NBA 2K and the rest of the company's popular sports games.

Driving the news: The suit was filed in federal court in California on Nov. 17 by a minor, J.A., who is represented by their mother.

  • It focuses on Take-Two's sale of "virtual currency" to buy in-game items in NBA 2K and the inability to transfer that currency to newer versions of the game.
  • The suit alleges that Take-Two's approach is "unfair, illegal and greedy," especially when coupled with the claim that it deactivates the servers for its older annual sports games relatively rapidly after new editions are released. Once the servers of a game are turned off, leftover virtual currency is inaccessible.
  • The suit accuses Take-Two of unfair business practices and violating California's civil theft statutes, stating in part: "By removing Plaintiff and the Class members' VC, Defendants took and stole their personal property, or fraudulently appropriated property that had been entrusted to Defendant."

The other side: A rep for Take-Two declined to comment about the allegations to Axios. The publisher's lawyers have not responded in court.

The big picture: Microtransactions in games are lucrative for publishers and a focus for Take-Two, which bases part of its CEO's compensation on customers' purchase of them.

  • They are particularly controversial when tied to randomized rewards as so-called loot boxes, which have drawn scrutiny from regulators in governments around the world.
  • Take-Two was sued over loot boxes in NBA 2K by another minor and her guardian in Illinois last year. But in October 2022, a judge ruled the matter should be settled through arbitration, leaving any resolution out of the public eye.

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