As we all know, S2 is now giving Leprechaun Blacksmith away for free despite having just recently (i) offered it for sale for 560 gold coins or 1800 silver and (ii) advertised it as a “gold” or “limited edition” avatar that would not be available after a one week sale period (which included repeated statements touting the limited nature of the avatar that were designed to induce people to purchase it).
Plenty of posts have already expressed how this action represents S2′s betrayal of those who purchased the avatar with coins (especially those who bought gold coins only for this purpose), which disproportionately include its most loyal and supportive customers.
But it’s really more than that: S2′s actions here likely constitute actionable fraud under the law of Michigan (state where S2 is headquartered). Fraud under MI law requires the following elements: (1) “the defendant have made a material misrepresentation”; (2) “the representation was false”; (3) “at the time the representation was made, the defendant knew it was false or made it recklessly, without knowledge of its truth”; (4) “the defendant intended the plaintiff to rely upon the representation”; and (5) “the plaintiff acted in reasonable reliance upon it”; and (6) “the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.” E.g., M&D, Inc. v. McConkey, 231 Mich. App. 22, 27 (Mich. 1998); Disner v Westinghouse Elec Corp, 726 F.2d 1106 (6th Cir. 1984).
The bulk of those elements are easily met here based on publicly available information: S2′s representations that the avatar would only be available for a limited time were obviously false; it was material (which basically means “important” as in “an important factor in making a purchase decision”) in that many people bought it at the time because they thought it would no longer be available; S2 clearly intended the “limited time” statements to induce people to buy it; many people in fact relied on the statement in making their purchase decision; and people were damaged in that they lost coins (for those who purchased with gold coins bought with money, they lost real cash). Element #3 is easily satisfied if S2 knew of this IGN deal at the time the avatar was available or otherwise knew that its “limited time” representations were false; but even if it didn’t, the fact that the IGN deal came so quickly after the “limited time” misrepresentations is extremely strong circumstantial evidence of at least a reckless disregard for the truth, which also satisfies this element. In sum, S2 has almost certainly committed fraud in violation of Michigan law by inducing people to purchase this avatar based on false representations of its limited nature.
This is not a silly “we should file a lawsuit!!@!$*!” post. It’s obviously worth no one’s time or energy to do so here. But the fact that S2′s questionable marketing practices have now crossed the line to the unlawful raises significant concerns for me about the company and the future of this game.
I hope S2 will recognize its error here and that its reputation is on the line. Many people, including myself, purchased this avatar at the time only because of the representation, now proven false, that it would no longer be available. It’s going to be very hard to trust S2 in the future. To attempt to salvage this situation, S2 should reimburse those who used coins to purchase this avatar. People make mistakes, and even break the law, sometimes without fully appreciating what they’re doing. I’m certainly willing to forgive and forget; but only if S2 makes a reasonable gesture to those who were duped by its statements.
Heres your next case Nancy Grace.