Fortnite Players, Parents Can Now Claim Refunds

Company has agreed to pay back $245M in surprise charges for in-game purchases
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 19, 2022 1:15 PM CST
Updated Sep 20, 2023 4:16 PM CDT
FTC Slaps Record Fine on Epic Games Over 'Dark Patterns'
File photo of a child playing a video game. The FTC slapped a record fine on Epic Games after the company's "dark patterns" and other practices "led to hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges for consumers."   (AP Photo/Martha Irvine, File)
UPDATE Sep 20, 2023 4:16 PM CDT

The Federal Trade Commission says it has started contacting 37 million to let them know they can apply for refunds for in-game purchases in Fortnite. Epic Games agreed to pay $245 million in refunds as part of $520 million settlement last year for breaching children's privacy and tricking people into buying items in the popular online game, the BBC reports. The FTC has details on the refund process here. The agency says people can apply for refunds if they were charged for items they didn't want between Jan. 2017 and Sept. 2022—or if their child made charges to their credit card without their knowledge between Jan. 2017 and Nov. 2018. Users whose Fortnite accounts were locked after they complained to their credit card companies about charges are also eligible for refunds.

Dec 19, 2022 1:15 PM CST

Video game company Epic Games will pay a total of $520 million in penalties and refunds to settle complaints involving children's privacy and methods that tricked players into making purchases, federal regulators said Monday. The Federal Trade Commission said it has secured the record-breaking settlements for two cases from Epic Games Inc., which makes the popular game Fortnite, per the AP. "Epic used privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teenagers and children," FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.

The company is refunding $245 million to customers who fell victim to so-called "dark patterns" and billing practices. Dark patterns are deceptive online techniques used to nudge users into doing things they didn't intend to do. In this case, "Fortnite's counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button," the FTC said. Players could, for example, be charged while trying to wake the game from sleep mode, while the game was in a loading screen, or by pressing a nearby button when simply trying to preview an item, it said. "These tactics led to hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges for consumers," the FTC said.

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Epic Games said it's making the payment to resolve concerns over "past designs of the Fortnite item shop and refund systems." The FTC will distribute the money "to Epic customers at their discretion," the company said. "Statutes written decades ago don't specify how gaming ecosystems should operate," the company also said. "The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved, and long-standing industry practices are no longer enough." In the second case, Epic Games agreed to pay a $275 million fine for collecting personal information on Fortnite players under the age of 13 without informing their parents or getting their consent. It's the biggest penalty ever issued for breaking an FTC rule. (More Epic Games stories.)

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