Epic Games fined for more than $500 million “because of” Fortnite

Fortnite has been the protagonist of different legal conflicts throughout its history. Now, one of those big scandals of... Eduardo | 19. December 2022

Fortnite has been the protagonist of different legal conflicts throughout its history. Now, one of those big scandals of this Battle Royale has just exploded, and Epic Games will have to pay a multimillion-dollar fine.

Riot Games has settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in which the Fortnite developer will have to pay a fine of $520 million for charges of privacy violations and unwanted credit card charges.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) determined that the studio misled its players and violated the privacy of minors.

Epic Games, Fortnite, and unprotected children

The FTC’s first fine against Epic is $275 million. This violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the most significant penalty in this law.

The second fine, to complete the $520 million, was for the use of design gimmicks to encourage users, primarily underage, to make unwanted purchases, which will cost another $245 million.

According to Lina M. Khan, the FTC chairwoman points out that:

“As our reports noted, Epic had used default settings that were invasive of privacy and misleading interfaces that confused Fortnite users, including teens and children.”

“Protecting the public, especially children, from these invasions of online privacy is a priority for the Commission.”

These allegations revolve around the fact that Fortnite allowed children under the age of 13 to create accounts on its service and play the game, which has a primarily online focus (being free-to-play, albeit with internal micropayments) without needing explicit parental consent.

In addition, the FTC claims that children and teenagers have been bullied, threatened, harassed, and exposed to traumatic situations, reaching the point of suicide because Fortnite had open real-time communication (text and audio) with strangers.

Epic accused of tricking players into buying in Fortnite

Another point highlighted by the FTC is that Epic used shady patterns and strange and outlawed practices regarding Battle Royale billing.

They then pointed out that the company had tricked players into making various unwanted purchases at the push of a button. It is also accused of allowing minors to buy V-Bucks without requiring adult supervision or consent.

As if that were not enough, the FTC recalled the scandal of blocked accounts with unauthorized charges, where many players lost all their content with no possibility of recovering their account or receiving a refund.

Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said:

“Epic put children and teens at risk through its lax privacy practices and cost consumers millions in illegal charges by using obscure patterns. Under the proposed orders announced today, the company will be required to change its default settings, return millions to consumers, and pay an unprecedented fine for its privacy abuses.”

Community feedback

Some people in the Fortnite community were outraged by this news, claiming that most of the blame for what happened lies with the children’s parents, who ignore what the kids do.

Others are ironically waiting for a supposed refund of their money.

Finally, the biggest losers after this announcement will likely be the players themselves and the young community, which will now have many more filters when entering the game.

This should have always been the case, a video game that incites violence and celebrates death should not be played by children without parental supervision.

Header: Epic Games