Who Qualifies For Refunds From The Settled Fortnite Lawsuit?
Epic Games agreed to pay out upwards of $500 million to the FTC and to consumers due to in-game purchases and alleged privacy violations. Find out if you qualify.
Epic Games, the studio behind the teen and tween gaming staples Fortnite and Fall Guys, has agreed to a record-breaking payout to settle two allegations that the studio implemented illegal and unethical practices in its hit games.
The charges, brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), allege that Epic collected personal information on users under the age of 13 without parental consent in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and also used so-called “dark patterns” to lure kids into making in-game purchases.
For reportedly violating COPPA, the FTC levied a $275 million fine, the highest in FTC history, while hitting Epic with an additional $245 million fine for the use of manipulative “dark patterns” on its gaming platforms, for a total of $520 million. Dark patterns are, per NPR, “deceptive online techniques used to nudge users into doing things they didn't intend to do,” like making in-game purchases — that then become difficult to reverse.
“No developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here,” Epic representatives said in a statement on the company’s website in response to the settlement. “We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”
Fortnite is a free-to-play open-world battle royale style game that swept onto the gaming scene in 2017 and quickly amassed a huge player base. Today, Fortnite logs around 25 million users per day, many of them tweens and teens playing video games. The game allows in-game purchases of character and weapon customizations as well as seasonal “battle passes,” which allow players to unlock levels and win additional customizations.
Epic has logged over one million complaints (!) from parents regarding unintentional charges for in-game purchases. The FTC alleged that while Epic made it incredibly easy for children to make purchases, the platform intentionally made it difficult to reverse or cancel accidental purchases.
“Protecting the public, and especially children, from online privacy invasions and dark patterns is a top priority for the Commission, and these enforcement actions make clear to businesses that the FTC is cracking down on these unlawful practices,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.
It is unknown what kind of monetary refunds or compensation affected players can expect from person to person, but the FTC has shared guidelines for determining if you qualify for the settlement.
Refunds for the Fortnite lawsuit settlement will go to:
- Parents of children who made unapproved purchases between January 2017 and November 2018
- Players who were charged for unwanted in-game items from January 2017 and September 2022
- Players whose accounts were frozen due to credit card disputes over accidental purchases from January 2017 and September 2022
The FTC will be contacting players directly if they made purchases during the timeframe in question.
“We share the underlying principles of fairness, transparency and privacy that the FTC enforces, and the practices referenced in the FTC’s complaints are not how Fortnite operates,” Epic representatives wrote. “We will continue to be upfront about what players can expect when making purchases, ensure cancellations and refunds are simple, and build safeguards that help keep our ecosystem safe and fun for audiences of all ages.”