Fortnite dev Epic fined $520m over child privacy and microtransaction trickery

Fortnite developer Epic Games has been fined $520 million by the FTC over child privacy and microtransaction trickery.

As reported by VGC, the FTC has fined Epic Games in two record-breaking settlements. Furthermore, the FTC has ordered Epic to pay $275 million for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

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What’s more, a second fine was also enforced for $245 million and ordered to refund customers who claimed to have been tricked into making unintentional microtransaction purchases.

Epic accused of violating child privacy in Fortnite

Moreover, it is claimed by the FTC that Epic violated COPPA by collecting personal data from Fortnite players under the age of 13 without requesting parental or guardian consent.

Credit: Epic Games

Additionally, Epic has been accused of violating FTC rules by enabling real-time voice and text chat for children and teens by default. The default setting has reportedly resulted in players being bullied, threatened and harassed. Furthermore, players have allegedly been exposed to psychological as well as traumatising issues.

From now on, Epic players must now enable voice chat and text communications for children and teens with consent via a privacy setting.

Shady microtransaction practices were employed

Credit: Epic Games

In terms of the charge against unintentional purchases, Epic has been accused of using “dark patterns and bill practices” to trick players into making in-game purchases.

According to the FTC: “Fortnite’s counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button.

For example, players could be charged while attempting to wake the game from sleep mode, while the game was in a loading screen, or by pressing an adjacent button while attempting simply to preview an item.

VGC also reports that up until 2018, children playing Fortnite were allowed to make in-game purchases without parental/guardian and cardholder consent.

Players allegedly locked out of their Epic account and couldn’t access Fortnite

Credit: Epic Games

The FTC accused Epic of ignoring over one million customer complaints related to purchases made without consent. So, as you can imagine, we’re pretty sure that many children went on unwarranted spending sprees for Epic’s gain.

However, it gets worse. The FTC also accused Epic of locking accounts for those that disputed unauthorised charges with their credit/bank card companies. Thankfully from now on, Epic will be prohibited from doing that again.

Finally, what are your thoughts on the epic fine from the FTC, is it justified? Let us know your thoughts across our social media channels.

While you’re here, be sure to check out our video of the week. 10 of the scariest horror games of all time are shown off. What is your favourite horror game?

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Featured Image Credit: Epic Games/Source: VGC