The online shooter Fortnite was particularly popular in 2018 and 2019, especially among young people and children. But the behavior of developer Epic Games has costly consequences almost five years later: the US trade regulator has imposed a fine of $245 million (€230.87 million) on the company. As early as December 2022, Epic had had to withdraw even more money.
How much money does Epic Games have to pay? The Federal Trade Commission (TFC) has now announced (via ftc) that Epic Games is paying $245 million back to customers for using “dark patterns” to trick players into buying things they didn’t mean to buy.
In addition, Epic Games made it possible for children to spend money without their parents knowing.
Back in December 2022, there was an announcement that Epic Games would have to pay $275 million to resolve violations of a statute designed to protect children’s privacy.
The new notice of March 14, 2023 is now that the decisions of December 19, 2022 are finalized and come into effect. After the FTC voted 4-0.
Kids bought skins without parental permission with wrong click
What exactly is Epic Games accused of? Epic is accused of using a series of design tricks called “dark patterns” to trick customers into buying things in the game they don’t want to buy:
- For example, the system “arranged buttons so confusingly” that players could buy cosmetic items with a single wrong click.
- The purchase processes were inconsistent and counter-intuitive: extra confusing and tempting to wrong actions.
- The company made it too easy for children to buy things in the shop without their parents’ permission.
In December 2018, Fortnite once again made huge profits with special promotions:
In addition, the company simply blocked people who complained about the unauthorized debits.
This practice will be prohibited by Epic Games going forward.
Epic wants to be a pioneer in customer protection
How is Epic Games reacting? They said back in December 2022 that they want to be on the “front line” of customer protection and explained numerous changes to their system that have been made since 2018 to better protect players.
Epic Games proved to be champions at making money off Fortnite just back in 2018. Twitch streamers played an important role:
Ninja reveals how Fortnite tied the creators and streamers with 3 skins