A settlement was reached regarding Fortnite and the FTC to the tune of $520 million dollars, and most of that sum is directed to providing refunds.
The Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with Epic Games over ongoing Fortnite lawsuits, citing privacy and deception as primary reasons for the largest settlement ever reached in a case regarding Video Game payment practices. The settlement cites “Epic will pay a $275 million monetary penalty for violating the COPPA Rule—the largest penalty ever obtained for violating an FTC rule,” with “Epic will pay $245 million to refund consumers for its dark patterns and billing practices, which is the FTC’s largest refund amount in a gaming case, and its largest administrative order in history,” in lieu of the verdict.
The most striking finding in the case provides a predatory practice by Fortnite, which not only charges account holders without proper authorization, but locks users out of their account if they’ve made a complaint with the goal of obtaining a refund. The FTC details the two reasons listed below.
– FTC Release
- Charged account holders without authorization: Children and other users who play Fortnite can purchase in-game content such as cosmetics and battle passes using Fortnite’s V-Bucks. Up until 2018, Epic allowed children to purchase V-Bucks by simply pressing buttons without requiring any parental or card holder action or consent. Some parents complained that their children had racked up hundreds of dollars in charges before they realized Epic had charged their credit card without their consent. The FTC has brought similar claims against companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google for billing consumers millions of dollars for in-app purchases made by children while playing mobile app games without obtaining their parents’ consent.
- Blocked access to purchased content: The FTC alleged that Epic locked the accounts of customers who disputed unauthorized charges with their credit card companies. Consumers whose accounts have been locked lose access to all the content they have purchased, which can total thousands of dollars. Even when Epic agreed to unlock an account, consumers were warned that they could be banned for life if they disputed any future charges.
With all of that being said, there must be an easier way for Battle Bus riders to obtain refunds now, and there will be! Fans will likely have a much more streamlined process for refunds, considering nearly a quarter billion dollars is designated to issuing refunds to consumers of the Epic Games juggernaut.
The FTC has launched a special site that not only provides who is eligible for the refunds, but will be detailing exactly how to obtain those refunds moving forward. The criteria for the past issues with lack of authorization is as follows: “Parents whose children made an unauthorized credit card purchase in the Epic Games Store between January 2017 and November 2018, Fortnite players who were charged in-game currency (V-Bucks) for unwanted in-game items (such as cosmetics, llamas, or battle passes) between January 2017 and September 2022,” and finally “Fortnite players whose accounts were locked between January 2017 and September 2022 after disputing unauthorized charges with their credit card companies,” in an attempt to make affected users whole.
All Fortnite fans who believe they meet this criteria can sign up for email updates through their website, and also, Epic Games has provided an easier return policy moving forward which can be found on their website as well.