The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has started notifying individuals who might be eligible for compensation due to a settlement reached with Epic Games. This settlement, finalized in March 2023, pertains to allegations that the company behind the popular video game Fortnite employed deceptive tactics, leading players to make unintended in-game purchases.
Details of the Settlement
The FTC's allegations, first made public in December 2022, claimed that Epic Games utilized various design strategies to coax consumers of all age groups into making unintentional in-game acquisitions. The company was also accused of facilitating unauthorized charges by children without the knowledge or consent of their parents. Furthermore, the FTC highlighted instances where Epic Games locked the accounts of those who contested unauthorized charges with their credit card providers.
As a result of these allegations, Epic Games agreed to a settlement amounting to $245 million. This fund is designated to provide refunds to affected consumers. The FTC is currently in the process of reaching out to over 37 million individuals, informing them of their potential eligibility for compensation. This notification process is expected to span a month. Those who believe they qualify have until January 17, 2024, to submit their claims. More information regarding the claim process can be accessed at the FTC's official website.
Epic Games' Response
In response to the settlement, Epic Games expressed its commitment to consumer protection. In a statement, the company mentioned, “We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.” This sentiment echoes the company's earlier stance when the settlement was first announced.
Implications for the Gaming Industry
This settlement underscores the importance of transparency and ethical practices in the gaming industry, especially when it comes to in-game purchases and microtransactions. With millions of players, including a significant number of minors, engaging with these platforms, it's crucial for game developers and publishers to ensure that their monetization strategies are clear, fair, and in the best interest of their user base.