Video Games

Epic Games Fined More Than $500 Million Over Fortnite’s ‘Unfair’ Microtransaction Practices

Epic Games must pay $520 million for ‘design tricks to trick millions of players into making unintended purchases’ in Fortnite by Federal Trade Commission [FTC] was announced today.

The fine comes from what the FTC calls two separate “record-breaking” settlements. For one, he is fined $275 million for violating her privacy protections for a child online. [COPPA] This rule imposes restrictions on websites and online services directed to children under the age of 13. Epic also has to refund the customer her $245 million, citing “dark patterns.”

According to the FTC, Fortnite uses “privacy-intrusive default settings” and a “deceptive interface” that “tricks” players.

“Protecting the public, especially children, from online privacy violations and dark patterns is a top priority for the Commission, and these enforcement actions are a testament to the FTC’s commitment to these efforts,” said FTC Chairman Lina Khan. It clearly shows companies that they are cracking down on illegal activities.

These “dark patterns” can lead players to unintended in-game purchases via “counter-intuitive, inconsistent and confusing button configurations”, such as charging while resuming from sleep mode. included. The FTC also said account holders could be charged without permission, and that children racked up “hundreds of dollars” in charges before parents knew what was going on. In that regard, the FTC says Epic “ignored over a million user complaints” about unfair charges and “intentionally” hid the cancellation and refund functionality.

Fortnite’s Voice Chat Settings Are Also In Crosshairs, Epic Responds

In addition to microtransactions, Fortnite’s voice chat was in the FTC’s crosshairs. The FTC claims that an Epic employee “prompted” the company to change Fortnite’s default settings to require users to opt-in to voice chat, but that when children were playing the game Despite being subjected to sexual and other harassment, the company claims it “resisted” turning off the feature. game. ”

As a result, Fortnite either disables voice and text communications for children and teens under the age of 13 or requires parents to provide consent through their privacy settings. Epic is also required to delete personal information collected from Fortnite users in violation of COPPA rules and to establish a “comprehensive privacy program.”

Epic published its own lengthy responsesome said: Clarify how the gaming ecosystem should operate. While the law hasn’t changed, its application is evolving and long-standing industry practices no longer suffice. We accepted this deal because we want to be at the forefront of and provide the best possible experience for our players. “

Epic argued that “all game developers should reconsider the steps they have taken to simplify payment flows,” noting that they implemented advanced privacy defaults in September. , addressed the allegations. Epic also announced an updated chargeback policy, self-service refunds, instant cancellation of cosmetic purchases, and a statement stating that “since 2019, there will be no paid random item loot boxes and gambling will be Not until now,” he said.

The fine is further evidence of the FTC’s growing interest in the video game industry, including a lawsuit to block Microsoft’s attempted acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Meanwhile, Epic has been embroiled in various lawsuits with Apple and Google over issues such as Apple receiving his 30% from both apps and in-app purchases.

Fortnite recently launched Chapter 4. It’s been described as a ‘new beginning’ thanks to a major graphical overhaul and other updates.

This story has been updated with Epic’s response to the FTC settlement.

Kat Bailey is IGN’s Senior News Editor and co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Any tips? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.

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