As you all know Epic games has been slapped by FTC with $254 million fine in September of 2023. Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, has been asked to pay a total of $245 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for deploying deceptive tactics in its in-game purchasing system. Here’s the answer to your missing funds and automatic charges.
This decision follows extensive complaints and investigations into the company’s practices, which led to unauthorized charges on customer accounts, particularly affecting young players and their parents.
What Prompted the FTC Action?
The FTC took action against Epic Games for several reasons:
- Dark Patterns in Design: Epic Games was criticized for creating a confusing and counterintuitive interface that easily led to accidental purchases by players. This was particularly problematic on mobile devices, where the proximity of the preview and purchase buttons caused unwanted transactions.
- Unauthorized Charges: The company’s payment system saved credit card information by default, enabling easy in-game purchases with just a button press. This led to numerous unauthorized purchases, especially by younger players without parental consent.
- Account Locks in Disputes: Epic Games was also found to lock the accounts of players who disputed unauthorized charges, denying them access to content they had already paid for.
- Violations of COPPA: The FTC alleged that Epic Games collected personal information from children under 13 without parental consent, a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Who is Eligible for the Refund?
- Parents whose children made unauthorized credit card purchases in the Epic Games Store between January 2017 and November 2018.
- Fortnite players charged for unwanted in-game items using in-game currency between January 2017 and September 2022.
- Players whose accounts were locked after disputing unauthorized charges between January 2017 and September 2022.
How to Claim Your Share
To be part of the settlement and claim a refund, eligible players or their parents need to apply online at the FTC v. Epic Games refund site. Requirements for the claim include either a claim number received via email from the FTC or the claimant’s Epic account ID. For those under 18, a parent or guardian must complete the claim form.
Originally set for January 17, 2024, the deadline to file a claim has now been extended to February 29, 2024.
What’s Next for Epic Games?
Moving forward, Epic Games has announced measures to enhance user privacy and protection, particularly for younger players. This includes introducing “cabined accounts” with limited features until parental consent is obtained. Additionally, Epic is partnering with LEGO to develop a child-friendly digital experience, indicating a focus on safer and more engaging content for younger audiences.
This settlement serves as a significant precedent in digital consumer rights, especially concerning children’s online privacy and the use of dark patterns in digital interfaces. It underscores the need for clearer regulations in the fast-evolving gaming industry and highlights the importance of protecting consumers from deceptive practices.