- On Monday, U.S. regulators announced that the developer of the renowned Fortnite video game had agreed to pay a substantial sum of $520 million in fines and reimbursements for its actions which involved children’s privacy violations as well as deceitful payment procedures leading gamers into making unintentional purchases.
After being taken to court, Epic Games Inc., creators of the successful video game Fortnite, was asked by the Federal Trade Commission to resolve two cases. Through five years’ worth of success in the gaming industry, they have become an unrivaled powerhouse.
In the largest FTC penalty to date, Epic Games has been ordered to provide $245 million in customer refunds and an additional fine of $275 million for harvesting player data from users under 13 years old without the consent or knowledge of their parents. This amount brings the total settlement cost to a whopping half billion dollars!
FTC Chairperson Lina Khan revealed in a statement, “Epic used privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teenagers and children.”
Epic released a statement before the settlement was finalized, Epic said in a statement, “to ensure our ecosystem meets the expectations of our players and regulators, which we hope will be a helpful guide for others in our industry.” In addition, the Cary, North Carolina-based firm declared that it has stopped engaging in any of the activities which had been called out by the FTC.
Approximately $245 million will be returned to customers who have been taken advantage of via deceptive “dark pattern” tactics and fraudulent billing practices. Dark patterns are a form of manipulation used online in order to mislead users into taking actions that do not align with their original intent.
In this particular scenario, “Fortnite’s counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button,” the Federal Trade Commission said.
For example, gamers may be charged when attempting to wake the game from sleep mode, loading a screen, or even by mistakenly hitting a nearby button.