FTC finalizes $245M fine against Epic over “dark patterns” in Fortnite

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has finalized an order requiring Fortnite maker Epic Games to pay $245 million to customers.

The payout is part of a broader settlement Epic agreed with the FTC last year to resolve concerns related to shop practices and refund systems the studio had previously implemented in Fortnite.

Specifically, the FTC claimed Epic used “dark patterns” to trick players into making unwanted purchases, letting minors accumulate unauthorized charges without any parental involvement.

In an update shared on the FTC website, the regulator said that Epic deployed “a variety of design tricks” to encourage users 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. The company also made it easy for children to make purchases while playing Fortnite without requiring any parental consent,” wrote the FTC outlining a complaint it filed in December last year.

The FTC also claimed that Epic locked the accounts of customers who disputed unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.

The $245 million being paid out by Epic will be used to provide refunds to consumers, while the order will prevent the company from using “dark patterns” moving forward or charging consumers without obtaining their affirmative consent. It will also bar Epic from blocking customers from accessing their accounts for disputing unauthorized charges.

As detailed in December 2022, Epic has also agreed to pay an additional $275 million penalty to settle FTC allegations that the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule.

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