The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) multi-million case against Epic Games is winding down.
The gaming company, maker of the massively-popular Fortnite, agreed to a settlement with the commission (FTC) last year after being accused of using “dark patterns” to dupe players into making unwanted purchases.
On Tuesday (Mar. 14), the FTC announced it had finalized an order requiring Epic to pay $245 million to consumers to settle the charges.
“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 in a news release. “The company also made it easy for children to make purchases while playing Fortnite without requiring any parental consent.”
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Epic Games agreed last year to pay $520 millionfor violating a pair of FTC rules. In addition to the $245 million for the refunds, it also said it would pay a $275 million penalty for violating a children’s privacy law.
The law in question was the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information from Fornite players under 13 without notifying or getting consent from their parents. In addition, the FTC said, the company required parents who requested that their kids’ data be deleted to “jump through unreasonable hoops.”
Epic said in December that it had accepted the settlement because it wanted to be “at the forefront of consumer protection” and to provide the best service for its customers.
“No developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here,” the company said in a statement posted to its website.
“The video game industry is a place of fast-moving innovation, where player expectations are high and new ideas are paramount. Statutes written decades ago don’t specify how gaming ecosystems should operate. The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved and long-standing industry practices are no longer enough.”
Earlier this year, federal regulators issued a circular warning businesses against the use of “dark patterns” to confuse or deceive customers of subscription services.
“Deceptive practices that seek to trap consumers into subscriptions they don’t want are a violation of the law,” said Samuel Levine, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Today’s circular puts companies on notice that there is a government-wide effort to stop these manipulations.”