Epic Games is probably best known for being behind the hit video game Fortnite. The game has blown up so much, it’s kind of insane. However, Epic just got slapped by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC recently resolved two cases against Epic Games Inc. which will cost the company $520 million. One of those lawsuits cost them $245 million in customer refunds for the use of “dark patterns” and billing which nudged customers into unintentionally purchasing items. The FTC stated:
Fortnite’s counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button.
These tactics led to hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges for consumers.
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.
Yikes! This is really not good. Epic agreed to refund the following three groups and the FTC will be posting more information on a site and releasing information through email updates.
Parents whose children made an unauthorized credit card purchase in the Epic Games Store between January 2017 and November 2018
Fortnite players who were charged in-game currency (V-Bucks) for unwanted in-game items (such as cosmetics, llamas, or battle passes) between January 2017 and September 2022
Fortnite Players whose accounts were locked between January 2017 and September 2022 after disputing unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.
The other $275 million dollars are a fine being charged for collecting the personal information of Fortnite gamers that were under the age of 13 without either informing the child’s parents or getting the parents’ consent. This fine is “the biggest penalty ever imposed for breaking an FTC rule.”
Epic has shared a statement where they discuss the settlements and some of the changes that they have made or are making. For example, they’ve agreed with the FTC to have an explicit yes or no option for saving payment information. This isn’t the best look for Epic, but they are taking it in stride which I’m sure is mitigating some of the damage. What are your thoughts on these settlements? Is Epic doomed after this?