Home Business Fortnite developer Epic Games fined record $520 million by FTC

Fortnite developer Epic Games fined record $520 million by FTC

by Ana Lopez
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In two separate settlements, the Federal Trade Commission fines Epic Games, the developer behind the extreme popular battle royale game Fortnite, totaling $520 million in connection with child privacy issues and what the agency characterized as “deceptive credit card charging practices.”

Chesnot / Contributor I Getty Images

Gamer playing Fortnite in Paris 2018.

The record-breaking settlements were announced Monday.

“No developer makes a game with the intention of ending up here,” Epic wrote in a blog post about the two settlements.

According to the FTC, since at least 2017, Epic Games has violated a child privacy law and used a host of digital practices that make it easier for customers, or unwitting children, to accidentally purchase things from the Epic Games Store or on Fortnite, and difficult to cancel or reduce the problem despite complaints.

Founded in 1998, Epic Games is a Cary, North Carolina-based game developer that introduced Fortnite to the world in 2017. The game was a breakthrough success, attracting 200 million players in just a few months. by insiders. Epic has also developed games like Gears of War.

“These enforcement actions make it clear to businesses that the FTC is cracking down on these illegal practices,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan. in the agency’s statement.

The FTC is the enforcer behind laws designed to protect customers. The agency claims that Epic Games has made it easy for kids (and people in general) to buy things on Fortnite or the company’s store without parental consent. It called these tactics “dark patterns,” which is also a general term for software that deceives users.

“Fortnite’s counterintuitive, inconsistent and confusing button configuration caused players to charge unwanted fees based on pressing a single button,” the agency wrote, adding that the company tested and then added features to make it more difficult. to make a purchase cancellation or a refund.

“Epic ignored more than a million user complaints and repeated employee concerns that “massive” numbers of users were being unfairly charged,” the FTC claimed. Finally, the agency said that if customers disputed the charges, their accounts would be banned.

Epic Games said the new policy would now only disable accounts in the event of fraud. The company said it would now request permission to store payment information and added extra checks to confirm a player’s purchase after the fact, among other mitigation measures it said in its blog post.

The FTC’s order requires the company to pay $245 million for this issue to go to certain customers affected by the problem outlined. Bee this linkyou can sign up to be notified when the website is online and see if you qualify.

The payment complaint has been submitted to the administrative court. The second wash. It was referred to the Department of Justice and then filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

The order fined the company for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which was passed in 1998. The law requires parental consent to collect the personal information of children under the age of 13, which the FTC Epic did not do with Fortnite.

The FTC also said the default setting for minors, which allowed them to text and voice chat in real time while using Fortnite, exposed younger users to “dangerous and psychologically traumatizing issues.”

The fine for that is $275 million and will be sent to the US Treasury. Epic is also being asked to delete personal information collected from people under the age of 13 and to be independently and regularly audited for this issue. The company discussed its new special accounts for minors in its blog post, called Combined accounts.

“We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players,” the company said in the blog post. of the two settlements.

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