‘Fortnite’ maker Epic Games has been ordered to pay €490 million for misleading millions of players, including children and teens, into making unintended purchases
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also said that the game developer had violated a federal children’s privacy law. In order to settle allegations that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting the personal information of children under the age of 13 without first obtaining their parent’s verifiable consent, Epic has agreed to pay the US government €250 million.
According to the FTC, it is the biggest fine it has ever enforced.
In a second and separate settlement, Epic will pay €240 million in refunds to consumers who were allegedly harmed by user-interface design choices the FTC claimed were deceptive.
In a blog post addressing the twin settlements, Epic said the agreement reflects an evolution in how US laws are applied to the video gaming industry.
“No developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here,” Epic said in the blog post. “We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”
FTC Chair Lina Khan said the settlement reflects the agency’s heightened focus on privacy and so-called “dark patterns,” a term used to describe design elements intended to nudge users toward a company’s preferred result.