The developers of the popular game Fortnite, Epic Games, have reached an agreement to pay a staggering $245 million in compensation. This settlement is expected to benefit tens of millions of players. Fortnite has gained immense popularity, with an average of 239 million monthly players, due to its colorful, cartoon-like design and engaging gameplay. While the game itself is free to play, players have the option to make in-game purchases, such as character customizations called “skins.”
However, Epic Games faced criticism from parents who accused the developers of misleading their children into making real-world purchases without their knowledge or consent. Some parents also expressed concerns about their children becoming addicted to the game, neglecting essential activities like sleeping, eating, and personal hygiene.
As a result, Epic Games was accused of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), leading to a settlement of $520 million in December 2022. Of this amount, $275 million constituted a fine related to Fortnite's data collection practices, particularly concerning users under the age of 13. The remaining $245 million will be paid out as refunds to affected players.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused Epic Games of implementing manipulative techniques, known as “dark patterns,” within the game. These deceptive interfaces could encourage players to make unwanted purchases while the game loaded. The FTC also highlighted the ease with which children could accumulate charges without parental consent and the subsequent locking of accounts when users disputed these unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.
The FTC has begun contacting approximately 37 million individuals to inform them about the compensation and their potential entitlement to a share of the $245 million. In addition, Fortnite has started sending messages to its users, notifying them about possible refunds. Individuals who believe they qualify for compensation can visit a dedicated webpage on the FTC's site to file their claims, which will be processed within four weeks. The deadline for submissions is January 17, 2024.
To qualify for a refund, individuals must be over the age of 18 and have made an unwanted purchase between January 2017 and September 2022. Parents whose children used their card details without permission must provide evidence that the expenditure was related to the game between January 2017 and November 2018. Other individuals can file a claim if their accounts were locked between January 2017 and September 2022 after they reported the wrongful charges to their credit card companies.
– Source Article