Fortnite's creator, Epic Games, incurred the largest penalty ever given by the Federal Trade Commission. The company was penalized for not only breaking the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, but also for tricking players into making in-game purchases via a technique known as “dark patterns.”
Epic Games has been ordered to pay $520 million for the violation and manipulation. Fortnite was allegedly allowing children to make purchases using the game currency without requiring any consent from a parent or cardholder. Parents and cardholders lodged a complaint that there were hundreds of dollars in charges for Fortnite on their cards and that the charges were made without their consent.
“These tactics led to hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges for consumers,” the Federal Trade Commission said.
Epic Games responded to the accusations by saying, “The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved and long-standing industry practices are no longer enough. We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”
$245 million out of the $520 million will be going back to customers in the form of refunds.
The FTC also alleges that Epic Games paired children and teenagers with “strangers,” potentially exposing them to “dangerous and psychologically traumatizing issues.” The company has also been accused of not having adequate parental controls.
“Protecting the public, and especially children, from online privacy invasions and dark patterns is a top priority for the Commission, and these enforcement actions make clear to businesses that the FTC is cracking down on these unlawful practices,” said FTC chair Lina Khan.
Epic Games will not only be paying the $245 million fine for the in-store and refund issues but also $275 million to settle the child privacy violation concerns.
Who Is Eligible?
There are three separate groups who are eligible for a cut of the refund. The first group is parents whose children made unauthorized payments in the game between January 2017 and November 2018.
The second group is players who disputed charges to their accounts and had their accounts locked as a result. The third group is players who were unknowingly charged Fortnite's currency for items they did not mean to buy between January 2017 and September 2022.
When Will You Receive a Refund?
The FTC announced that nothing needs to be done at present. There is a website dedicated to the penalty, and the FTC assured those affected that the landing page will be updated. Customers who were charged for in-game purchases will also receive an email with developments in the case.
The FTC has also issued a warning to victims to be on alert for scammers attempting to trick them into paying a fee in exchange for their refund.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.