The developer of Fortnite, Epic Games, has been ordered by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to pay $245 million in refunds to Fortnite players for using “dark patterns to trick players into making unwanted purchases and let children rack up unauthorised charges without any parental involvement”.
In a complaint announced in December as part of a settlement package with Epic, the FTC said that the company deployed a variety of design tricks known as ‘dark patterns’ aimed at getting consumers of all ages to make unintended in-game purchases.
The FTC claims that “Fortnite’s counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button”, making it easy for children to make purchases while playing Fortnite without any parental consent.
According to the FTC’s complaint, Epic locked the accounts of customers who disputed unauthorised charges with their credit card companies.
The FTC has ordered Epic to pay $245 million, which will be used to provide refunds to consumers, as well as barring the company from blocking consumers from accessing their accounts for disputing unauthorised charges.
As part of the $520 million settlement announced in December last year, Epic agreed to pay $275 million for violating Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Fortnite players who believe that they have been impacted by the practices can visit the official Fortnite page on the FTC website for more information.