Now it’s getting really expensive for Fortnite developer Epic Games. As part of an out-of-court settlement, the company must pay the US consumer protection agency FTC 520 million US dollars in fines.
Fortnite developer Epic Games fined over 500 million US dollars
Due to a violation of child protection law with the popular shooter Fortnite, developer Epic Games is being asked to pay up in the US. After the studio already had to assert itself in a lawsuit against Apple and also won this in September 2021, they now agreed with the U.S. Consumer Protection Agency FTC out of court in another case.
And that immediately in several cases, as can be seen from the message of the Federal Trade Commission. This had accused Epic Games, among other things, to violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
According to the FTC, Epic Games collects personal data from players under the age of 13 without obtaining parental consent, which is required by law. There was also no information provided to parents.
At the same time, Epic Games harmed children and teens by enabling chats with adult game players, it said. “Epic is putting children and teens at risk because of its lax privacy settings and costing users millions in illegal charges through the use of dark patterns,” shares Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Children and teens have been bullied, threatened, and exposed to dangerous and psychologically traumatizing topics such as suicide in Fortnite, according to the FTC, the agency continues.
Record fine for Epic Games
For these reasons, the Federal Trade Commission is imposing a record $275 million fine on Fortnite developer Epic Games – the “largest penalty ever imposed for violating FTC rules”.
Another 245 million US dollars the company must pay in restitution to affected parties because of the “dark patterns and payment practices”, also a record. The reason given is that tricks were used to entice minors to make purchases in Fortnite.
For children, this had resulted in unauthorized costs that took place without any involvement of adults and guardians. In addition, it is necessary to adjust the privacy settings for children so that the chat function in the game is turned off by default for them.
A fine of over $500 million is definitely record-breaking. For Epic Games, however, this still only represents peanuts. With over 400 million registered users, Fortnite is one of the most played games par excellence. According to the manufacturer’s financial report, the title generated around 5.8 billion US dollars in revenue in 2021 alone, compared to around 5.1 billion US dollars in 2020.