Producing gaming applications has proven to be a successful business model that, when done correctly, can grow beyond the games themselves into movies, merchandise and more. However, when corners are cut, lawsuits and regulatory problems can keep a good idea from reaching its commercial potential. Prior to launch, developers should consult with a gaming attorney to understand the legal issues that are involved when entering the mobile app game space.

What should developers be aware of when creating mobile app games?

Cautionary Tale

In September of this year, game developer and publisher, Huuuge, Inc. ("Huuuge"), settled a class action lawsuit for $6.5 million. The Plaintiffs, players of Huuuge's Huuuge Casino, Billionaire Casino and Stars Casino games, had alleged that Huuuge's social casino games constituted unlawful gambling within the meaning of Washington State gambling laws. Huuuge mobile app game players were initially provided free virtual coins to wager on Vegas-style slots. Once they had exhausted their free virtual coins, users were provided with the opportunity to extend gameplay by purchasing additional virtual coins. Plaintiffs alleged that this practice also violated Washington's Recover of Money Lost at Gambling Act ("RMLGA"), the Washington Consumer Protection Act ("WCPA") and common law unjust enrichment. 

Creating a Mobile App Game

When creating mobile app games, developers must be careful to: 1) follow the mobile app store platform provider policies of Apple and Android; 2) comply with applicable state and federal laws; and 3) adhere to certain regulatory guidelines promulgated by governmental agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"). Given the time that the public spends on their mobile phones today, lawmakers are increasingly focused on consumer protection in the mobile platform economy. As such, to ensure that their mobile app games remain compliant, app developers should stay up to date on evolving state and federal laws, and rules and regulations. 

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Originally published by Klein Moynihan, October 2020

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.