Candy Crush Player Fights for His Lives

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By Alexis Kramer

A Candy Crush player can pursue claims against the popular mobile app game’s maker for allegedly stripping him of chances to play that he had received from Facebook friends, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled May 23 ( Liston v. King.com, Ltd. , 2017 BL 172088, N.D. Ill., No. 15 CV 01853, 5/23/17 ).

Plaintiff Zachery Liston has standing to sue under Article III of the Constitution because he adequately showed he was deprived of game “lives” he had earned and wasn’t otherwise compensated for marketing the game, Judge John J. Tharp said.

The ruling highlights the issue of whether virtual prizes such as extra game lives, characters and gems have real-life, economic value under the law. The decision appears to contrast with a series of federal court decisions holding that in-app prizes have no actual value under state gambling laws.

An attorney for King.com Ltd., the maker of Candy Crush, declined a Bloomberg BNA request for comment.

To obtain additional lives in the game, players can wait 30 minutes, buy five lives for $0.99, or ask Facebook friends who have installed Candy Crush to donate lives, Liston said. But after exiting and restarting the game, Liston’s donated lives disappeared, he alleged.

Liston brought breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims against King.

The court rejected King’s argument that Liston failed to allege an injury sufficient to confer standing. According to King, Liston plays Candy Crush for free, receives donated lives for free and failed to allege he could have sold those lives.

The court said that, although an injury need not be economic to support standing, Liston plausibly alleges that Candy Crush lives have actual economic value. Players can purchase them for $0.20 each, and King compensates players for marketing the game to Facebook friends by allowing them to receive donated lives, the court said.

“Liston plainly has standing to complain of the loss of those assets by means of King’s conduct,” the court said.

Siprut PC is representing Liston. Cooley LLP is representing King.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at aKramer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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