The Federal Trade Commission orders Epic Games to pay $520 million in fines for violating children's privacy and deploying deceptive practices to "trick" children and teens into making purchases.
"The FTC's action against Epic involves two separate record-breaking settlements. As part of a proposed federal court order filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, Epic will pay a $275 million monetary penalty for violating the COPPA Rule-the largest penalty ever obtained for violating an FTC rule."
Fortnite developer Epic games is hot water right now in the United States. The company, who maintains one of the most popular video games ever made, has been ordered by the FTC to pay over half a billion dollars in relief for two major penalties. The first is a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The FTC finds that Epic Games collected personal information from children playing Fortnite without parental consent or notification, and that Fortnite's real-time voice and text chat was also a violation of COPPA.
Epic is ordered to pay a record-breaking $275 million civil penalty for COPPA violations and will be required to turn off voice and text chat as a default setting in Fortnite.
The second penalty is likewise as serious. The FTC finds that Epic Games used what is called "dark patterns" to "trick" or "deceive" consumers into making purchases that they did not mean to, or wish to, make. The FTC says that these illegal practices led to hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized purchaes.
"The company has deployed a variety of dark patterns aimed at getting consumers of all ages to make unintended in-game purchases.
"Fortnite's counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button.
"For example, players could be charged while attempting to wake the game from sleep mode, while the game was in a loading screen, or by pressing an adjacent button while attempting simply to preview an item. These tactics led to hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges for consumers.
As part of this dark pattern penalty, the FTC also admonishes Epic Games for "allowing children to purchase V-Bucks by simply pressing buttons without requiring any parental or card holder action or consent."
And finally, the FTC found that Epic Games actually locked or froze the accounts of consumers who challenged the unwanted charges. Over 1 million complaints were filed to Epic Games, and employees even informed management that "huge" amounts of users were getting wrongfully charged.
Epic Games will pay $245 million for this penalty, and all of the money will be issued as a refund to consumers who were wrongfully charged. For more info on how to get a refund, click here.