The Federal Trade Commission finalized an order Tuesday requiring Fortnite developer Epic Games to pay $245 million in fines for using “dark patterns” to trick players into making unwanted or unauthorized charges.
Fortnite employed “counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration” that duped players into making unwanted charges with the press of a single button, according to an FTC press release. Furthermore, there was no purchase authorization process, enabling minors — a large demographic of the popular battle royale game — to rack up charges without parental consent.
The FTC order is part of a larger agreement between the commission and Epic Games from December 2022. According to a press release from Epic Games, the video game developer accepted the agreement in efforts “to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”
Since the agreement, Epic Games has taken measures to prevent unwanted charges, such as greater clarity when it comes to saving payment information and a “hold-to-purchase mechanic” to verify the user’s intent to buy.
The company also updated its chargeback policy to account for non-fraudulent charge disputes. Previously, a chargeback would automatically disable the user’s account as a fraud-prevention measure. Now, Epic Games only restricts account access when signs of fraud are present.
Epic Games has eight days from the day the order was finalized to pay the fine in full. The FTC will distribute the funds to affected users at its discretion, though there is currently no timeframe for when users can expect a refund, according to an FTC spokesperson.
Players who suspect they have been wrongfully charged for Fortnite purchases can visit FTC.gov/Fortnite for more information on the refund process.
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