Fortnite Maker Will Pay $520 Million in Fines to FTC for Violating Childrens’ Privacy Laws
The founder of the popular Fortnite video game will pay $520 million in combined penalties and refunds to come to
The founder of the popular Fortnite video game will pay $520 million in combined penalties and refunds to come to a settlement about complaints involving children’s privacy when playing. Additionally, Epic Games will face fines over its’ payment methods that tricked players into making unintended purchases. US federal regulators have been involved.
The Federal Trade Commission reached the settlements to resolve two cases against Epic Games Inc., which has had an effect on Fortnite’s success in the past five years as it has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Epic Games Settles with FTC Over Fortnite Privacy Violations and More
Fortnite and Epic Games will have to pay an unprecedented $520 million in relief funds after the FTC found them guilty of tricking users into making purchases, collecting data from children without parents consent, and having default settings that harmed both children and teens— Jake Lucky (@JakeSucky) December 19, 2022
The $520 million covered in the settlement consists of $245 million in customer refunds and a $275 million fine for collecting personal information on Fortnite players under the age of 13 without informing their parents or getting their consent. It’s the biggest penalty ever imposed for breaking an FTC rule.
“Epic used privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teenagers and children,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.
We’ve reached a settlement with the FTC. Our response: https://t.co/hrzyud8VEc— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) December 19, 2022
Even before the settlement was reached an or announced, Epic Games shared in a statement it had already rolled out a series of changes. They stated, “to ensure our ecosystem meets the expectations of our players and regulators, which we hope will be a helpful guide for others in our industry.”
The Cary, North Carolina, company also asserted that it no longer engages in the practices flagged by the FTC.
The $245 million in customer refunds will go to the video game players who became victims of these so-called dark patterns along with billing mistakes.
In this case, “Fortnite’s counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button,” the FTC said.
“These tactics led to hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges for consumers,” the FTC said.
Epic said it agreed to the FTC settlement because it wants “to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”
“No developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here,” Epic said.
During the last two years, Epic Games Inc. has also been involved in a high profile legal battle with Apple as they attempted to dismantle the barriers protecting the App Store.
After Epic introduced a different payment system within its Fortnite app in August 2020, Apple ousted the video from the app store, triggering a lawsuit that went to trial last year.
Because of this, a federal judge ruled largely in Apple’s Favor because she was a fan of the iPhone’s control over the app store as it protected privacy of customers. The ruling has been put under appeal and the answer will be known some time next year.