$5 million Square Enix class action suit detailed

Amended complaint reveals FFXI gamer is suing Japanese publisher for millions in "suffered damages" after her characters were deleted during two-year hiatus from MMORPG.

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On June 22, a class action lawsuit was filed against Square Enix accusing the publisher of unfair business practices, false advertisements, and undisclosed fees related to its massively multiplayer online role-playing game Final Fantasy XI. The lead plaintiff, Esther Leong of San Francisco, filed the complaint on behalf of over 100,000 fellow MMORPG subscribers and demanded a payment in "excess of $5 million" from the game publisher. Now, in an amended complaint filed Monday, the plaintiff revealed the specifics behind the generalized accusations outlined in the June 22 document.

How many gold bars would a Tarutaru have to stockpile to equal $5 million?

In the updated filing, Leong alleges that Square Enix failed to disclose all the fees associated with the MMORPG at the time of its purchase. Specifically, the complaint states that the publisher fails to disclose that players must continuously pay a monthly subscription in order to retain their in-game characters. The document alleges that the label on the retail box, which forewarns "additional online fees required," is too vague to qualify as a full disclosure of the game's supplemental costs. Currently, Final Fantasy XI costs $12.95 a month to play.

The plaintiff also asserts that the publisher failed to disclose other subscription information at the time of purchase. Namely, Square Enix did not reveal to its subscribers that if they did not pay every month, then their characters and game key would be permanently unusable after 90 days without payment. Moreover, in order to save the account before that 90-day mark, players had to pay a reactivation fee and subscription fees for each unpaid month.

However, PlayOnline's current member agreement--which all subscribers must agree to--states that all players must pay the game's recurring subscription fee due at the beginning of each month. If users fail to foot the bill at that time, their accounts are deactivated and can only be brought back by paying "all delinquent subscription fees" and applicable reactivation fees. Additionally, the agreement asserts that Square Enix is not liable for any damages resulting from an inability to access PlayOnline, including the loss of data.

According to the same document, Leong began playing Final Fantasy XI in 2005 and was a subscriber until August 2007, when she took a break from the game. When she returned to the game in 2009, she found that her account was invalidated because she hadn't paid the monthly fees. She now considers in-game characters she lost "suffered damages" and is suing for multimillion-dollar compensation.

Final Fantasy XI was released in October 2003 in North America, reaching 500,000 users worldwide by January 2004 through its PlayOnline service. Currently available on the PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and PC, the game received its most recent expansion pack, A Moogle Kupo d'Etat, last month.

Discussion

441 comments
DynV
DynV

@terra_ultmia how much maintenance fees does it incur to run a cron on their production server moving character to an archival one (low processing with compression algorithm) or even have tape backups (very low fee)? The bottom-line is they just don't care.

JoePiervincenti
JoePiervincenti

It was over 100,000 players "by my scythe" Anyway, what a tool.... this is such a screwed up country we live in, I hope this suit gets dismissed immediately. Classic case of people choosing not to pay any attention to the user agreement and then crying foul. Deadbeat.

by_my_scythe
by_my_scythe

keep in mind, that this is a "class action" lawsuit. This means that she isn't the only plaintiff on this case. There may be a list of 10,000 people for all we know. If that's the situation, then I wouldn't blame her for being the only whistleblower, or the one who screws it up for the rest of us, for that matter.

NearlyPrescient
NearlyPrescient

@Schonertod is right on. I'm pretty sure they don't automatically delete characters once they've been inactive. a lot of people come back after long breaks and find that they are able to recover their accounts. having resubscribed recently, I'm pretty sure I was gone at least a year and neither had to pay a reactivation nor had any of my characters deleted. I think the reactivation fees are only when you close your account by canceling or removing the credit card instead of just closing a content ID.

texasjgc
texasjgc

Zr122 got it right. It says player is responsible for ADDITIONAL fees...Maybe she can't read? lol

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

i realy have no say in this but an old friend i knew playd FFO and it happend to him and a few more... realy wierd i mean why delete the chars in the first place? is it for the names or somthing? it realy must suck.. but you might as well just move on. Oh and the whole re activation thing is the bigest pile of SH!T!! EVER!!! the heck is that... if you dont play you dont play ok, if you wana play again just keep payin.. shouldnt be that way SE.

Splufbum
Splufbum

Eh, I sympathize, and wish it would change since I like to take breaks to keep in touch with the real world, but from a legal standpoint they've certainly covered themselves. Also, keep in mind it mentions that she's doing this on behalf of 100,000 other people. This means if she wins and they split it evenly, everyone would (even less after legal fees have been dealt with) which is more than fair for a courtroom victory. While everyone's quick to affiliate this with other frivolous lawsuits where a person looks for a million dollars for not getting enough lettuce on their burger or something, it seems slightly different, and intended mostly to curtail SE's practices on the matter, not for personal compensation. So...yeah, I hope she wins, though I'm not optimistic about her chances. Personally I've taken breaks from it fairly frequently and wish I didn't have to worry about dropping a payment every few months to keep things active, but someone mentioned they don't even enforce the 90 day thing all that aggressively anymore anyway, so maybe there's hope after all. We'll just have to see if they try something similar with ffxiv.

MistofBrina
MistofBrina

I cant beleive that someone would make so much noise over an MMO. The ONLY good argument that I can think of for anyone to want to sue Square for deleating character data on FFXI is for how much time it takes to play that game and I suppose someone could wine about them "loosing that time in their life" or something like that. But no matter what it's silly, especally for so much money. Sounds to me like someone is trying to find "loop holes" in the Agreement policy for playing FFXI (and failing) I've played FFXI since it's release in 2004 [recently quit however]. I suppose I'd shed a tear if my character got deleated, but come on people!!! It's VIRTUAL reality! You can re-aquire everything from an old deleated game file, easier than the first time as well considering that you'd have some experience.

Schonertod
Schonertod

Funny thing is i played this game for the longest time and i take like 2-5 months at a time off from it and have always come back to my chars still being there and never had to pay any back fees. Also if you read it they say after 3 months your char may be deleted meaning if your account happens to be seen unactive they go delete to save space for another account. get over like stated before you dont know veritual property.. I hope SE comes back and this chick pays for wasting peoples time and money.

zr122
zr122

The only reason I never got this game as that I read on the box (an this is back when it first came out, no expansions, etc) that it was a P2P game. I didn't want to shell out cash to buy the game and then more to play it. And besides, you have to give your credit card information to begin to play, so there's no reason she can sue for costs when they say "additional online costs" on the box. She should have done research, it's her fault entirely.

terra_ultmia
terra_ultmia

turn out that this person, who having bought and paid for this game knew this was a pay-to-play game. if she and several others had taken the pain of reading the agreement or looking over the manual once, you might find something wherein, things wouldn't be included. there a reason why ToA are long. to cover each and every loophole to prevent it from being exploit. and you can't really expect SE to save your character for 2 years when there are other purpose for the server space.

Clayer
Clayer

I didn't even last a whole month playing FF XI, yet even I knew of the 90-days of inactivity character wipe deal. The manual is there for a reason, right?

StarvingPoet
StarvingPoet

People need to realize that you, as a player, do not own any virtual items in a virtual world. You only entitlement is that the company makes a reasonable effort to provide you with access to said virtual world whilst you are subscribed. Such is the law.

XShortGuy007
XShortGuy007

I think it's rather silly that a large company such as Square Enix can't store a few megabytes worth of information indefinitely for a person who takes a break from their game.

LOLZuMadBro
LOLZuMadBro

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Glaber
Glaber

This is one of the reasons I don't play MMORPGs

sneakysnake
sneakysnake

I hope she wins so that Squeenix will finally see the epic fail that is the FF MMO, namely FFXI and the future FFXIV.

TheTHCGamer
TheTHCGamer

squar enix just better hope they were smart enough to have this in writing or have this displayed somewhere in the game. it would be stupid if they didnt because you have to be prepared for people who will sue over petty things like this.

GenkaiSIX
GenkaiSIX

For some reason, it has always been known amongst my friends and I that if you discontinue your monthly payment plan for your character then it would be deleted after 90 days. I'm sure SquEnix has this statement filed away somewhere and will bust it out in court. People need to stop coming up with lawsuits like this, reminds me of something that would be filed against a fast food restaurant. I hope SquEnix counter sues her for everything she's got, there'd be some "suffered damages" for her.

akira900gt
akira900gt

i'm with Lothis on this one. i feel sorry for her losing her characters but it was entirely her fault from the sound of it. maybe i should sue SquareEnix for making such great RPG's and taking up hundreds of hours of my life. jking of course!

HmongXiongBoy
HmongXiongBoy

shes suing them because she wasnt able to pay them, maybe she should have read the manual, and i think that 5 million is way too much money, SE got the money but they would probably win the case

squall3773
squall3773

This persons angry because they state they were never told. I remember purchasing FFXI when it came out fully knowing it would have a monthly cost. I read the manual and understood that after 90 days of inactivity everything would be lost. Saddened i brought it back, the store understood and thought it was crazy. Sure the whole thing is nuts, but its what SE decided to do and they have every right to do so.

AjaxsLastStand
AjaxsLastStand

So what if they have the money? This is a lawsuit brought up because someone got butt hurt over nothing. I guess I should just go and sue them for something that, to them, is paltry. Why? Because they've got the money. Dude, hell with that.

Lothis
Lothis

This person is just plain stupid. Basically, what happened here is that this person activated their account after it was deactivated and had insufficient funds in whatever their payment method was when billing time came around. That is the one and only way your account can go into delinquency. Not only that, but Square-Enix does send you emails reminding you that your account is delinquent and that if payments aren't made that you will have to repurchase the game to play again. I'm not particularly a fan of some of Square-Enix's business practices when it comes to FFXI, but this was entirely that person's fault, not SE's. Also... "Namely, Square Enix did not reveal to its subscribers that if they did not pay every month, then their characters and game key would be permanently unusable after 90 days without payment. Moreover, in order to save the account before that 90-day mark, players had to pay a reactivation fee and subscription fees for each unpaid month. " This is either worded horribly or a flat out lie. You can go inactive and you DO NOT have to pay for your inactive months. Again, this person allowed their account to go into payment delinquency and the DELINQUENT payments have to be made (which can only be a maximum of one month) before the game can be played again. They don't even delete inactive characters anymore and haven't done so since like 2005. This person played in 2007 so their deletion was caused from leaving their account delinquent for over 90 days. That is perfectly understandable.

Cloud737
Cloud737

As much as I hate Square for the stupid things they pulled with FFXI, there's nothing you can really do in a trial against it. They covered themselves from a legal standpoint from these kind of situations. Now, I understand that what they're doing is not really right (from a moral point of view relative to how the MMORPG industry is today), that it's not right to "delete" characters after periods of inactivity (and I'm actually surprised Square can pull back characters from oblivion with their "Return to Vana'diel" campaign, which shows the characters aren't really deleted, but they merely deny you access just so they can milk more money from you), and even more so to charge for the months that you were inactive in case you want to reactivate your account, but you really can't do anything to them, it's their right to do just that. It may not be fair given the services and policies WoW and other MMORPGs offer, but it's their right to do that. Your only hope is that market dynamics and competition force them to change or otherwise go under (read: if enough players get really upset and vocal about them and start canceling their payments and move on to other MMORPGs).

especensor
especensor

RaiKageRyu, read more carefully. 90 days and ur account is dead. But what is really retarded, is if you don't play for say 2 months, and then start playing again, you have to pay for the 2 months you didn't play!? Thats major bs on SquareEnix's part.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Battle.net deletes your account for inactivity for being away for just a few months. Two years is a pretty good lease.

Sammonoske223
Sammonoske223

$5 million lawsuit!? Excessive much!?!? Don't like it then don't play it!

PuppetMaster786
PuppetMaster786

I mean come on how will you guys not notice that they are charging you monthly after the first month and its their fault that they kept paying them and the fact that they played that game so much that the money amount has become an issue is now frightening. All i have to say is use your brain, the warning means they WILL charge you and when money is taken out of your account don't wait until you are bored and then you decide that you want the money back. By the way i can't believe people are suing them over loosing virtual characters...

jaSteRdcX
jaSteRdcX

lawl. i wish i still had my character though... oh well 14 comes out soon. I kinda hope this guy wins to show squeenix they can't do whatever they want.

Tomba42
Tomba42

It seems like they both have a little bit of a point. Wanting millions of dollars for this? Insanity. Deleting characters on old, unused accounts? If it saves them some server space, sure. you stopped playing, they shouldn't be required to save your data forever. However, expecting people who want to start again to pay money for all the time they weren't playing is bs.

silverthornne
silverthornne

Every once in a while, SE would do these specials where you could play your old character by just paying the monthly fee, no matter how long ago it was that you stopped playing. I guess they stopped doing that? Anyway, the game allows you to play the first month free, and it details all the fees and penalties very well within the PlayOnline client. I didn't really expect anything from SE when I quit playing myself. So I guess SE's defense would lie in demonstrating that all was informed, and the plaintiffs will have to prove that information hidden away within the PlayOnline client (it's not that the info is hidden; it's more that the POL client is a PoS to use and navigate) is just not accessible very well nor intuitive. Of course if I were the judge I'd just say a few harsh words to these peoples for making so much noise out of an online game they stopped playing. If I stop playing for my web site's domain name and hosting, I don't expect the registrar to valiantly save all the details for whenever I choose to pay for the services again.

robin_killian
robin_killian

@BlueFlameBat: It's a MMO, you cannot save the characters to your harddrive or MemCard, they're saved on the company's server, to largely prevent hacking or tampering of Characters.

robin_killian
robin_killian

@Storm Walker: A two-year break could be more then just "quitting without thinking of taking the game up again", it could be also be because of family matters, work, or just re-evaluating one's lifestyle. Besides, from the way you have posted your comment, you obviously don't know how long it takes to get to max level in FFXI... not to mention the items dropped from multiple bosses/elites. Now, I may not have played the game, but I work with someone that does, and he has told me of all the above points I bring to your statement. FFXI is not WoW... FFXI is more harder, time-consuming, and team oriented then WoW is. You ask anyone around here, and they'll tell you the same thing. Leveling in WoW is too easy. Within 2 months, 1 if your good, you could take a character from level 1 to 80. In FFXI, that's a year to get to max level. A boss/elite in WoW must be team oriented to take down, and may take upwards of half an hour to kill; a normal monster in FFXI must be team oriented as well, and their bosses/elites can take upwards of 8-10 hours to kill, and upwards of over 40 characters fighting one boss for one item. All my facts are just my recollection of what I heard. If I got any FFXI facts wrong, I wish to be corrected, not ridiculed. And yes, I played WoW in the past, and I will not return to that game.

Maim00
Maim00

Wonder what would happen if Blizzard started deleting characters.

Storm_Walker
Storm_Walker

A two-year break? That's too long to be considered a break, that's quitting without thinking of taking the game up again until suddenly changing one's mind two years later. If it were me I would've forgotten so much about what I was doing in the game that I'd just start over anyway.

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

Why the hell couldn't you just save your character to a hard drive or memory card? All the same, I think I'd have more sympathy for the plaintiff if this wasn't yet another in a long line of ridiculous lawsuits.

Poobert_Wilson
Poobert_Wilson

Holy damn, I'd never pay to play FFXI, but the lawsuit is pretty stupid. All online games have their thick Terms of Services which we thoroughly ignore. Certainly not the company's fault.

mindrk
mindrk

Final Fantasy is older than WoW, its programming and servers, which is why they had the delete old unused data, but they did get around to updating the servers and the player based stabilized so they created the return home to vanadiel, though if the data was already deleted before this too bad, also since all of this including the deleting and 90 days is mentioned in the terms of use agreement, the case will most likely get thrown out...which while i have my own personal qualms with SE, i hope these idiots lose, frivilous lawsuits are screwing up the judicial system

oopomop
oopomop

Oh btw people, you pay $1 per character you have, that 1 character is all you need due to being able to change class. The normal sub is $12.95 ($11.95?) So i dont get why people complain about having to pay to get their character back... they still save a few dollars compared to other mmos.

theshoveller
theshoveller

I don't think this suit will win - yeah, it does suck that they can delete your stuff at any time, but like they say with the whole RMT thing and buying powerlevels with real money, it's their data, and you're paying to get access to their servers, and to use their data. Plus, they have that "return to vanadiel" stuff now on a permanent basis, so you just have to pay a tiny fee to get your people and stuff back (unless I'm wrong in thinking that). Anyway, as much as I would like to see them win against Square (for karma reasons, mind you), they'll just claim that they have "procedures set up to prevent this sort of thing from occurring, and they regret any mental anguish from not having their daily quota of 'kupo' in their life."

FarmFreshDX
FarmFreshDX

The suffered damages is stupid. However, the agreement is vaguely worded and it is a total ripoff. WoW may be 15 a month, but you can break from that for 3 years and come back with your old characters ready to go and not have to pay any more than the sub fee again like normal. I guess Squeenix is hoping the blatant ripoff fees for rejoining will make up for a lack of subscribers.

MattD2779
MattD2779

Too bad 5 million isn't enough to put Square-Enix out of business for good. Hope she wins anyway - I hate what they've done to Final Fantasy.

theR34p3R
theR34p3R

"Namely, Square Enix did not reveal to its subscribers that if they did not pay every month, then their characters and game key would be permanently unusable after 90 days without payment. Moreover, in order to save the account before that 90-day mark, players had to pay a reactivation fee and subscription fees for each unpaid month." Damn... they got some nerve asking ppl to pay for that too. That is just plain ripping ppl off imo.

Gornax
Gornax

LOL, You really shouldnt sue just cause your char has been deleted after u`ve been inactive in such a long time. I bet that person just activated cuz she read somewhere that they will sue, so she installed the game again on her pc, logged on, saw her char was deleted, wich she knew, and then uses this as an argument to maybe get herself some cash. I dont play mmorpgs myself, cuz i loose interest and may take breaks over long time, and i dont have cash to pay an lawyer to fight my lame cause against the publishers:P

hotgamer
hotgamer

They need to make your character permanent and not be deleted after 3 months of inactivity. No other games does this kind of things. WoW has way more players, you don't see the character deleted if you leave for 2 years. Square-Enix dosesn't have any respect for its customers at all.

oopomop
oopomop

Sadly this person will fail in the lawsuit. When you get a character slot, you are just renting the space on the server. If you stop paying, they can legally remove your characters. (However they dont, but they can.) For example, when you rent an apartment, you are renting it. The landlord states what goes, what doesnt, etc etc. If you say you are moving out, the landlord will then try to rent your apartment. If after 3 years you want to come back, should you sue the landlord because they rented out your old apartment? .........................................................................................................................................................................................................- Yes i know they cant exactly run out of room to make characters, but its still the fact that you are paying to play a game and reserve space. Once you stop paying, the company can do whatever it wants. (Most, such as Guild wars and wow for example, just let you keep the characters forever. FFXI doesnt. ;/ ) (The period line is so it doesnt make a wall of text.)