Millions of Fortnite users will soon have the opportunity to claim their share of a $245 million settlement that Epic Games, the parent company of the popular game, has agreed to pay as part of a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The settlement stems from allegations that Epic Games used deceptive tactics to drive users to make unwanted purchases within the game.
Epic Games, which settled with the FTC in December, has now opened the claims process for the more than 37 million potentially affected users who could be eligible for compensation. The FTC has stated that Epic Games used “dark patterns” and other deceptive practices to trick players, including children, into making purchases without their consent.
The settlement includes two separate payments. In one settlement, Epic Games agreed to pay $275 million to resolve claims that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting the personal information of children under the age of 13 without parental consent. In a second settlement, Epic Games agreed to pay $245 million as refunds to consumers who were allegedly harmed by deceptive user-interface design choices.
The FTC is now notifying users who may be eligible to receive a portion of the settlement fund. Users may receive an email from the FTC with a claim number, or they can directly visit the settlement site and file a claim using their Epic account ID. The deadline to submit a claim is January 17, 2024.
Users who can apply for a claim include those who were charged in-game currency for items they didn’t want between January 2017 and September 2022, parents whose children made charges to their credit cards on Fortnite between January 2017 and November 2018, or users whose accounts were locked after they complained about wrongful charges. Claimants must be 18 years old, but younger users can have their parents submit a claim on their behalf.
While it is not clear how much individual settlement payments will be, Epic’s agreement with the FTC also includes provisions that prohibit the company from using dark patterns or charging consumers without their consent. Additionally, Epic is forbidden from locking players out of their accounts in response to chargeback requests with credit card companies disputing unwanted charges.
In a blog post, Epic Games stated that no developer creates a game with the intention of ending up in a settlement with the FTC. However, the company accepted the agreement to be at the forefront of consumer protection and to provide the best experience for its players.
Overall, this settlement represents a significant step in holding game developers accountable for their business practices and ensuring that consumers are protected from deceptive tactics. It also serves as a reminder to all players to be cautious and informed when making in-game purchases.