Fortnite developer ordered to pay $245 million to refund 'tricked' players in federal settlement

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Fortnite developer ordered to pay $245 million to refund 'tricked' players in federal settlement
Under an FTC order released Tuesday, Epic Games, which developed Fortnite (Fortnite Chapter 2, seen above) must pay a fine which will then be used to refund customers.Epic Games
  • Fortnite developer Epic Games will pay $245 million over its practices surrounding in-game purchases.
  • The payout runs tandem with a $275 million fine the developer agreed to play in December.
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Fortnite developer Epic Games will pay $245 million to players of the popular video game to settle charges that the game used "dark patterns" to coerce players — especially children — into making unwanted purchases.

The payout was finalized by the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, and marks the second time in recent months that the developer has been hit by fines. Epic's conduct regarding in-game purchases was first brought up in a December complaint filed by the FTC, alongside a separate lawsuit alleging the developer violated children's privacy law.

"Epic used privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teenagers and children," FTC Chair Lina M. Kha said in December. "The FTC is cracking down on these unlawful practices."

Under the FTC order released Tuesday, the millions Epic pays will then be returned to consumers. Separate from the $245 million payout, Epic will also pay $275 million for violating children's privacy law.

Epic's flagship video game Fortnite is free for players to download, but includes several options for in-game purchases like virtual gear for characters. The game swiftly rose to popularity after its release in 2017, and has maintained a strong following among gamers — particularly young players.

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"Fortnite's counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button," the FTC wrote. "The company also made it easy for children to make purchases while playing Fortnite without requiring any parental consent."

Additionally, the FTC has barred Fortnite from continuing similar practices that lead to unintended purchases.

Those who believe they have been impacted by Epic's practices can go to FTC.gov/Fortnite for more information on the refund process.

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