Epic Games, the maker of the popular battle royale, Fortnite, has been fined $520 million in penalties and refunds for using is popular video game to illegally collect children’s personal data without consent from their parents and trick them into making in-game purchases.
According to the details, Epic Games was using privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite players, including teenagers and children.
The company now has to refund $245 million to customers who fell victim of the so-called ‘dark patterns’ and billing practices. “Fortnite’s counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button,” the FTC said.
It added that players were charged for trying to wake the game from sleep mode or by just pressing a button when trying to preview an item. “These tactics led to hundreds of millions of dollars in authorized charges for consumers.” it added.
Furthermore, the company also has to pay a penalty of $275 million for collecting personal information on Fortnite players, including children under the age of 13 years without getting consent from the parents.
Epic Games has stated that it is making the payments to resolve concerns over ‘past designs of Fortnite item shop and refund systems.”
It added that FTC will distribute the money to Epic customers at their discretion. However, the company further added that statutes written decades ago don’t specify how gaming ecosystems should operate. “The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved and long-standing industry practices are no longer enough.” the company stated.