Fortnite-maker to pay $520 mln for subjecting children to harassment
Epic Games has violated child privacy laws, and will be paying a hefty fine.
Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, agreed to pay $520 million to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday for violating child privacy laws and misleading minors and adults to make unintended purchases online.
The FTC said that the settlements from one of the biggest names in the video gaming industry set records, as Epic Games was found responsible for deliberately targeting players under 13, subjecting them to harassment and trauma in chat rooms.
The FTC furthermore said that Epic Games was aware that many children were playing Fortnite, in addition to collecting their information without the consent of their parents, which is required by US law: "Even when Epic obtained actual knowledge that particular Fortnite players were under 13, Epic took no steps to comply with (US law)," the FTC complaint alleged.
The commission also accused Epic Games of setting online chat defaults allowing children and teens to play with strangers and subjected them to potential harassment.
"Children and teens have been bullied, threatened, harassed, and exposed to dangerous and psychologically traumatizing issues such as suicide while on Fortnite," the FTC said.
Epic agreed to own up, agreeing to pay $275 million. The company is now prohibited from enabling chats unless the parents of users under the age of 13 - or teenage users - give consent.
In another complaint, allegations arose saying that Epic Games engaged in 'dark patterns', which trick users into making unwanted purchases or opting-in to settings without their knowledge.
Epic, according to the FTC, "let children rack up unauthorized charges without any parental involvement." The company then agreed to pay $245 million in consumer refunds to resolve the complaint.
In a statement, Epic said that "no developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here.
"We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players," it added.