As part of a deal with the US Federal Trade Commission, the parent company of the popular video game Fortnite has agreed to pay $245 million.
The developer of a multiplayer shooter game that became hugely popular among young people a few years ago has settled FTC accusations that it employed deceptive tactics to drive users to make unwanted purchases. The settlement was finalized in December. More than 37 million users may be eligible for compensation, and the FTC announced on Tuesday that the claims procedure is now open.
After being accused of misleading millions of gamers, including minors, into making inadvertent purchases and of violating a landmark federal children’s privacy law, Epic Games agreed in December to pay a total of $520 million to settle US government claims.
Epic paid $275 million to the US government to settle charges that it had collected personal information from children under the age of 13 without their parent’s consent, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. In a second, unrelated settlement, Epic agreed to reimburse $245 million to customers who were damaged by the company’s allegedly fraudulent decisions in user-interface design.
Check the below tweet by CNN to confirm it:
Millions of Fortnite users can now claim their small part of the $245 million that the game’s parent company agreed to pay as part of a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission https://t.co/wbgHLX8NvN
— CNN (@CNN) September 20, 2023
On Tuesday, the FTC released a statement saying that the Fortnite developer “used dark patterns and other deceptive practices to trick players into making unwanted purchases” and “made it easy for children to rack up charges without parental consent.”
The FTC is now letting users know if they may be able to get some of the $245 million settlement money. The FTC may send affected consumers an email with a claim number the following month, or they can go to the settlement site, enter their Epic account ID, and make a claim.
Users who had their accounts locked after complaining to their credit card company about wrongful charges made between January 2017 and September 2022 are eligible to apply, as are parents whose children made charges to their credit cards on Fortnite between January 2017 and November 2018. Users under the age of 18 must have parental permission to file a claim on their behalf.
The deadline for users to submit claims to be included in the settlement class is January 17, 2024. The exact amounts of the settlement payments to each individual are yet unknown.
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According to the terms of the settlement with the FTC, Epic is also not allowed to utilize “dark patterns,” or charge customers without their knowledge or consent, nor is it allowed to lock players out of their accounts if a user files a chargeback dispute with their credit card company.
While announcing the settlement in a blog post last December, Epic noted that “no developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here.” It went on to say, “We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”
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