March 23, 2023

Epic Games set to pay a total of $520 million in a pair of settlements with the US FTC over claims that the Fortnite developer illegally collected data on children and manipulated millions of players into making unintentional purchases.

Fortnite, is one of the world’s most popular online multiplayer games, with more than 400 million players. The game is available to play for free, but players can use its in-game currency, V-Bucks, to buy virtual items, from outfits to accessories and weapons, to personalise their characters.

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The payouts mark the biggest win yet by regulators tackling so-called dark patterns in apps and games.

  • FTC accused Epic of failing to obtain parental consent from Fortnite players under the age of 13, in breach of US child protection laws,
  • FTC accused of a “counterintuitive, inconsistent and confusing” layout to its in-game store of virtual items that “led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button”.

We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players. It suggested that the issues on which it had been challenged by the FTC were shared by other game developers.

EPIC Statement

Epic made changes to its own payment systems, including requesting explicit consent from users to save their purchasing details and making it easier to obtain refunds. It has also recently changed how children can chat with other players in the game.

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Regulators around the world are working to strengthen protections for children’s safety online, in games, as well as on social media. This is one of the prime examples of stringent data privacy rules.

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