Epic Games announced today that it will pay more than $500 million to settle charges from the US Federal Trade Commission.
According to the FTC, Epic was awarded $275 million for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and for “tricuding millions of players into making unintended purchases” with a design that relied on dark patterns2 will pay $45 million.
Privacy violations ( reference URL ) include collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 without parental consent or notification, and enabling voice and text chat for children and teenagers by default. is included.
The FTC was working with Epic employees to make voice and text chats opt-in as of 2017, but there have been reports of children being harassed and sexually harassed while playing games. Nonetheless, it was noted that Epic delayed the change. When it added a button to turn off voice chat, Epic made it harder for users to find, says the FTC.
Regarding complaints about dark patterns ( reference URL ), the FTC said it was “counter-intuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configurations” when users accidentally tried to wake the game from sleep mode or during loading screens. It points to a single-button buy, which means buying something. Epic also placed the button to preview the item in Fortnite adjacent to the buy button, which could lead to accidental purchases.
In addition, until 2018, Fortnite will allow children to purchase virtual currency V-Bucks without parental consent or cardholder action, and the accounts of users who dispute fraudulent charges through their credit card companies. Said it was locked.
The FTC further asserts that Epic ignored more than a million user complaints about fraudulent charges and used internal testing to make its cancellation and refund features harder to find.
The $245 million Epic will pay to resolve complaints about dark patterns will be used to refund customers. The FTC will take charge of refunds, and will launch a refund program on the FTC website ( reference URL ).
Epic confirmed the settlement, saying it was “his over and above longstanding industry practice.”
”No developer wants to end up here,” the company says. “The video game industry is a fast-paced innovation arena where player expectations are high and new ideas come first. Legislation written decades ago dictates how the gaming ecosystem operates. The law hasn’t changed, but its application has evolved and long-standing industry practices are no longer sufficient.We believe that Epic is at the forefront of consumer protection and that players We accepted this agreement because we want to provide the best possible experience for our customers.” “
Over the past few years, we have made changes to ensure our ecosystem meets the expectations of players and regulators. We hope this will be a useful guide for others in this industry.”
Developers interested in learning more about COPPA can refer to our primer on the law and the obligations that game makers have ( reference URL ).