A lot of money to us, but maybe not to Epic.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has finalized an order given to Epic Games made in December, requiring the massive games developer and publisher to pay $245 million in refunds to Fortnite players for using “dark patterns to trick players into making unwanted purchases.”
In the official FTC statement, the Commission says that Epic “deployed a variety of design tricks” that were aimed at getting consumers of all ages, most notably children, to make unintended in-game purchases. The Commission placed the blame on “Fortnites counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration,” and said Epic made it easy for children to make purchases without parental consent.
The $245 million will be used to provide refunds to customers, and Fortnite players who believe they have been impacted by the practices can visit the official Fortnite page on the FTC website for more information. In addition to the owed money, Epic is prohibited from using these practices in the future or from “charging consumers without obtaining their affirmative consent.” The order also bans Epic from blocking consumer access to their account for the purposes of disputing charges.
The $245 million in refunds as a result of the use of dark practices is part of a larger $520 million settlement the FTC placed on Epic back in December. The other $275 million that Epic was forced to pay was a penalty for violating Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The FTC alleged in its original complaint that Epic collected personal information from children under 13 without their parents’ verifiable consent, and also enabled real-time voice and text chat for kids and teenagers by default.
According to data made public via the Apple vs. Epic Games trial back in 2021, Fortnite generated over $5 billion in revenue for Epic each year in 2018, 2020, and 2021.