Fortnite Epic Games FTC Settlement: Video game developer Epic Games has agreed to pay $520 million to resolve claims by the United States government that the company deceived millions of players, including minors, into making in-game purchases without their knowledge and that it violated a historic federal children’s privacy legislation.
Epic has agreed to pay the United States government $275 million to settle allegations that it collected personal information from children under the age of 13 without the necessary and verifiable consent from their parents in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). According to a statement released by the FTC on Monday, this is the agency’s biggest fine ever for a rule that it enforces.
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Today the FTC made clear that the predatory practices threatening young people online extend beyond social media. Congress must act now to put an end to this generation-defining mental health & privacy crisis. https://t.co/JEZ77oaFL9
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) December 19, 2022
Fortnite Epic Games FTC Settlement
Epic has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $245 million to compensate customers who were injured by what the FTC deemed to be deceptive decisions in the user interface. The FTC further stated that the accord was the largest administrative order in agency history.
Epic addressed the twin settlements in a blog post, claiming that the arrangement shows a shift in the way that US law is applied to the video game industry.
Epic stated in its blog that “no developer produces a game with the purpose of ending up here.” We’re on board with this deal because we want Epic to be a leader in consumer protection and give our players the very best.
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– Epic agrees to pay $520 million to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission complaint over luring kids to rack up huge bills in Fortnite
– FTC: Epic "ignored more than one million user complaints and repeated employee concerns…"https://t.co/gWDzwF7gTs
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) December 19, 2022
The settlement, according to FTC Chair Lina Khan, is a reflection of the commission’s increased focus on privacy and so-called “dark patterns,” which are design aspects meant to guide users toward a company’s favored conclusion.
In a statement, FTC Chairperson Khuzami Khan stated, “Protecting the public, and especially children, from online privacy invasions and dark patterns is a key priority for the Commission, and these enforcement actions make clear to businesses that the FTC is cracking down on these unlawful practices.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit and proposed a settlement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina regarding the protection of children’s personal information. The FTC argued that the default settings for matching and in-game chats exposed children to bullying and harassment, in addition to the improper acquisition of children’s data.
An administrative complaint accusing Epic of deceptive design decisions was submitted to the FTC. More than a million parents have complained to Epic about unauthorized charges, according to the complaint, which alleges that Epic made it too easy for children to make in-game purchases with a single click or button press without parental agreement.
The FTC also claimed that Epic made it more difficult for players to cancel in-game transactions by placing the cancellation option at the bottom of the screen and requiring players to press and hold a button on their controllers. The FTC claims that these changes were made because studies showed that when the cancel option was more prominently displayed, inadvertent charges were the “number one reason'” people clicked on the button.
According to the terms of the settlement agreement Epic has reached with the FTC, the business will not utilize dark patterns, will not charge customers without their permission, and will not lock players out of their accounts if they file a chargeback dispute with their credit card companies. The duration of this agreement is 20 years from the date it is signed.
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Settlement includes $245 million set aside for the public to get refunds
Epic: "The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved.."
Epic making changes to purchase flow, including longer button press to confirm purchase, backing off bans for contesting charges
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) December 19, 2022
A blog post by Epic stated that the company had reached an agreement with the FTC to include a feature that would prompt players of Fortnite to confirm whether or not they wished to save their payment information. According to the website, the new functionality can be seen in action right now. The developer also released a child-friendly version of “Fortnite” not too long ago, with restricted access to chat and in-app purchases while waiting for parental approval.
As part of the FTC’s children’s privacy settlement, Epic may disable text and voice chat by default for players 13 and under or those who are under the age of 13. Aside from deleting the information, it is accused of collecting in breach of COPPA, the corporation must also implement a complete privacy procedure.
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#EpicGames put kids and teens at risk through its lax privacy practices and tricked consumers into making unwanted in-game purchases.
— Common Sense Media (@CommonSense) December 19, 2022
For its part, Epic stated that the methods cited by the FTC’s complaints are not reflective of how Fortnite runs and that the company shares the core ideals of fairness, openness, and privacy that the FTC enforces. We’ll keep making it easy for players to get refunds and cancel orders, and we’ll add protections to make sure our platform is safe and enjoyable for people of all ages.
Frequently asked questions
Why did Epic Games get fined?
The FTC said that Epic was aware that minors were playing Fortnite and was collecting data from them without their knowledge or permission, and that the game’s default settings were harmful to minors.
Can you dispute Fortnite charges?
The purchases aren’t ones I’m familiar with.
If you have a problem, please send a ticket by clicking the “CONTACT US” button. After reviewing your submission, an agent will reach out to you for any further information they may need to proceed with the investigation.
Will Epic Games stop giving free games?
Even after more than three years after the debut of the digital storefront’s outstanding weekly freebies program, the Epic Games Store still gives away free games every week. It has been confirmed by Epic that the free games program will last until at least 2022.
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