The creator of the video game Fortnite has to pay a record $520 million in fines and refunds for tricking children into buying things in the game.
The US Federal Trade Commission ruling found that Epic Games “employed dark patterns to trick millions of players into making unintended purchases.”
The watchdog said this included things like costumes and dances, while players often inadvertently bought items like “V-Bucks,” the in-game currency. It also said that Fortnite has set up its game so that often parental consent is not required for children to make purchases. And it said children were sometimes bullied and upset by having voice and text chat communications enabled by default.
The ruling applies to Fortnite users in the United States.
“As our complaints state, Epic used privacy-invasive defaults and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teens and children,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan.
Fortnite is generally free to download and play, but charges users for in-game items. It has more than 400 million users worldwide and has earned more than $9 billion in its first two years.
“Epic put children and young people at risk with its lax privacy practices and cost consumers millions of dollars in illegal fees for using dark patterns,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau. “Under the proposed orders announced today, the company must change its default settings, return millions to consumers and pay a record-breaking fine for its data breaches.”
In a complaint filed in a US court, the FTC alleged that Epic violated the US COPPA privacy law by collecting personally identifiable information from children under the age of 13 who played Fortnite, a child-directed online service, without notifying their parents or obtaining verifiable parental consent.
The company’s “counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration” meant hundreds of millions of dollars in unintended in-game purchases were made “on the basis of a single button press,” according to FYC.
As an example, the FTC said users could be billed “while attempting to wake the game from sleep while the game was in a loading screen, or by pressing an adjacent button while simply trying to to preview an item”.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/fortnite-to-pay-490m-in-penalties-for-duping-children-into-unintended-purchases-42230577.html Fortnite has to pay 490 million euros in fines for “convincing” children to make unintentional purchases