Epic Games Pays $520 Million to the FTC to Resolve ‘Fortnite’ Claims

Epic Games will pay more than $500 million in a pair of settlements with the US Federal Trade Commission over allegations that… Fortnite The developer illegally collected data on children and manipulated millions of players into making unintentional purchases.

The payments represent the biggest gain yet by regulators who are tackling so-called “dark patterns” in apps and games, which trick users and gamers into making decisions that benefit the company, often at the expense of the individual.

In two separate legal complaints, the FTC has accused Epic of failing to obtain parental consent from Fortnite players under the age of 13, in violation of US child protection laws, and the “unintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing” layout of its in-game store for virtual items “that led players to incur unwanted charges based on pressing a single button”.

As our complaints indicate, Epic has used deceptive default settings for privacy and deceptive interfaces that have deceived Fortnite said Lina Khan, chair of the FTC. “Protecting the public, especially children, from invasions of online privacy and dark patterns is a top priority for the committee.”

Epic has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of its settlements.

“We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and to provide the best experience for our players,” the company said. In a blog post, he suggested that the issues challenged by the FTC were also shared by other game developers.

“The old status quo of in-game commerce and privacy has changed, and many developer practices should be reconsidered,” Epic said. “We share the FTC’s core principles of fairness, transparency, and privacy, and the practices indicated in the FTC complaints are not the way Fortnite operates.”

Fortnite, launched in 2017, is one of the most popular multiplayer online games in the world, with over 400 million players. The game is free to play, but players can use its in-game currency, V-Bucks, to purchase virtual items, from clothes to accessories and weapons, to personalize their characters.

Epic was valued at nearly $30 billion in a fundraiser earlier this year led by Sony and the family investment group that owns most of Lego. It’s working with Lego to develop an online world, or “metaverse,” for kids, and it’s been evolving too FortniteBranded toys with companies like Hasbro.

Tim Sweeney, Epic’s founder and CEO, has been a vocal critic of Apple’s App Store and has sued the iPhone maker over its restrictions on alternative payment systems.

Along with settling with the FTC, Epic has made changes to its payment systems, including requiring explicit consent from users to save their purchase details and making it easier to obtain refunds. It also recently changed how kids can chat with other players in the game.

The FTC’s action against Epic follows settlements with Apple and Google in 2014 over in-app purchases made by children. Regulators around the world are working to strengthen protections for children’s safety online, in games as well as on social media. In the UK, an upcoming online safety bill would require online platforms to take additional steps, such as checking the age of their users, as part of efforts to stop children from seeing harmful content.

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