'Fortnite' Tricks Players To Purchase Stuff And Invades Children's Privacy? Its Maker Will Pay $520M To Settle FTC Accusation

The Federal Trade Commission alleged that Epic Games’ “Fortnite” violated online privacy protection for children and tricked players into making unintended purchases.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the videogame developer responsible for the most played online game in the world has agreed to pay $520 million to settle FTC accusations.

See also: US Congress Presses Big Video Game Companies To Combat Harassment And Extremism

Privately held Epic Games -owned by its creator Tim Sweeney (+50%), Tencent TCEHY (40%), Sony SONY (4.9%), and Kirkby (3%)- had to resolve two civil complaints: one was filed in federal court and claimed the company was violating the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protecting Act.

How? By collecting personal information from “Fortnite” without consent nor notifying the parents.

Moreover, the lawsuit charges Epic Games with “illegally enabling real-time voice and text chat communications for children and teens in the game by default,” as cited by WSJ. These actions, claims the FTC, put underage kids in danger by exposing them to bullying and harassment from strangers online.

'Fortnite's' Obscure Tactics?

The second complaint assures that the video game developer used tactics such as counterintuitive button configurations to trap customers. Furthermore, “Fortnite” players had a rough time trying to cancel and get a refund for their unintended purchases.

See also: eSports And Anime: 'Fortnite' Will Collaborate With 'My Hero Academia' To Release In-Game Skins And Other Gameplay Changes

As per WSJ: “The FTC further alleged that Epic intentionally obscured cancel and refund features to make them more difficult to find and that the company locked the accounts of customers who disputed unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.”

Consequently, Epic Games -which was last valued at nearly 32 billion in April- now faces two record-breaking settlements: the $275 million civil penalty for the alleged COPPA violations, and the $245 million in consumer refunds.

What’s next?

According to the FTC, Epic will have to make changes to “Fortnite” in order to comply with the settlements. Also, it must implement independent audits.

Stay tuned for more on this story.

Continue reading: The Best In eSports In 2022: Riot Games, 'Valorant' And All Of The Winners Of The eSports Awards 2022

Photo by Vlad Gorshkov on Unsplash

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