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Final Fantasy XI Gamers Fight Back

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Los Angeles, CAFans of Final Fantasy XI are so devoted it has taken years for players of the online role playing game to accuse Square Enix, the company that owns the game, of unfair billing practices. "I have spoken to many of these players and I can assure you there is an addiction and loyalty to this game that surprises you," says consumer protection attorney Ron Makarem.

Online GamerBut Ester Leung had finally had enough of Square Enix's billing plan. Makarem has filed a potential multi-million dollar suit against Square Enix, on behalf of Leung and similarly situated players, claiming the company is guilty of failing to disclose the complete costs of the game.

Final Fantasy XI was first released in 2002 and quickly became one of the best selling online-only games ever to hit store shelves. This year, Square Enix reported that its total number of online users topped 2 million.

Makarem has filed a potential multi-million dollar suit against Square Enix, the owner and operator of the game, on behalf of Ester Leung and similarly situated
players, claiming the company is guilty of failing to disclose the complete costs of the game.

"By the time the gamers find out that they have to pay $12.95 a month to maintain their online fantasy character it is too late to return the game," argues Makarem. "As soon as you open the game it is non returnable; you open the box and read the directions and if you are not happy with what it says you are stuck with it, you can't return it. "

Once they open the box they find out that if they put the game away for a few months and stop paying the fee, they lose their role playing character and the game becomes obsolete. In order to start playing again, they have to buy the game all over again – or pay a reactivation fee as well as back fees. "It is basically an incentive to never stop paying the month fee," says Makarem.

"If you buy a monopoly game you can play it once every three months and you don't have to pay a monthly subscription fee," add Makerem. " For Final Fantasy you have to pay for as long as you want to use the game. You can't even take a vacation from the game for 3 months or have a baby or take any kind of break without having to go out and buy another game."

Marakem will be seeking class certification within the next few months. His client, Ester Leung, is seeking compensation for herself and others.

Asked why it took so long for someone to complain about the billing process and alleged undisclosed costs, Marakem says it is a matter of the loyalty that people feel towards the game. "It is like tax the on cigarettes. It goes up $5, smokers just pay it, they don't ask questions because they're addicted and this is the same thing."

Ron Makarem graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in political science (1992) and Pepperdine University School of Law with a J.D.(1995). In 2007 he was voted one of the best lawyers under the age of 40 in California. He has dedicated his practice to protecting consumer rights and re-establishing the public's trust in attorneys and the justice system.

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