Gaming giant Aristocrat could be on the hook for damages after the Big Fish digital gaming arm it bought for $1.3 billion was targeted in an American class action over its issuing of “virtual chips”.
Aristocrat, a $15 billion gaming giant listed on the Australian stock market, on Tuesday confirmed the lawsuit had been filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington against Big Fish Games, a Seattle-based online casino games developer acquired by the business last year.
Big Fish’s games used the virtual chips, which could not be exchanged for cash, but if users ran out of virtual chips, they needed to buy more to continue playing the game.
“The proliferation of internet connected mobile devices has led ot the growth of what are known in the industry as ‘free to play’ video games,” the class action claim says.
“This terms is a misnomer. It refers to a model by which the initial download of the game is free but companies reap huge profits by selling thousands of in-app items.”
Aristocrat and Big Fish’s former parent company, Churchill Downs, dispute the ruling and are continuing to work together to “vigorously defend the action”.
In a statement on Tuesday, Aristocrat said neither the company nor Big Fish had yet been served with the lawsuit.
“However, Aristocrat understands that the Plaintiff alleges that certain games Big Fish Games offers for play are games of chance that are prohibited by Washington law”,” the company said.
“Aristocrat intends to vigorously defend the action.”