Video game company Epic Games will pay a total of $520 million in penalties and refunds to resolve complaints related to children’s privacy and methods that tricked players into making purchases, US federal regulators said Monday. .us
The Federal Trade Commission said it has obtained unprecedented settlements for two cases from Epic Games Inc., which makes the popular Fortnite games.
“Epic used privacy-invading default settings and deceptive interfaces that misled Fortnite users, including teens and children,” FTC Chairman Lina Khan said in a statement.
The company is reimbursing $245 million to customers who fell victim to so-called “dark patterns” and billing practices.
Dark patterns are deceptive online techniques used to push users to do things they didn’t intend to do.
In this case, “Fortnite’s inconsistent, inconsistent, and confusing button layouts led players to incur unwanted charges based on pressing a single button,” the FTC said.
Players could, for example, be loaded while trying to wake the game from sleep mode, while the game is on a loading screen, or by pressing a nearby button when simply trying to preview an item, he said.
“These tactics generated hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges to consumers,” the FTC said.
Epic Games said it is making the payment to resolve concerns about “previous Fortnite item shop layouts and refund systems.” The FTC will distribute the money “to Epic customers at its discretion,” the company said.
“Bylaws written decades ago do not specify how gaming ecosystems should operate,” the company said. “The laws haven’t changed, but their enforcement has evolved and longstanding industry practices are no longer enough.”
In the second case, Epic Games agreed to pay a $275 million fine for collecting personal information from Fortnite players under the age of 13 without informing their parents or obtaining their consent.
It is the largest penalty ever issued for violating an FTC rule.