Fortnite Settlement: Millions Eligible for $245M Compensation

Epic Games, the parent company of Fortnite, settled with the FTC for $520 million over deceptive practices, including unauthorized in-game purchases and privacy violations. Eligible users can claim compensation from a $245 million fund until January 17, 2024. The settlement also prohibits dark patterns and unauthorized charges.

Millions of Fortnite users now have the opportunity to claim a share of the $245 million settlement agreed upon by Epic Games, the parent company of the popular multiplayer shooter game, following a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In December, Epic Games resolved allegations made by the FTC that it engaged in deceptive practices that coerced users, particularly younger players, into making unwanted in-game purchases. The FTC announced on Tuesday that the claims process has officially opened for over 37 million potential affected users who may qualify for compensation.

The settlement reached in December required Epic Games to pay a total of $520 million to address US government claims, including misleading millions of players, including children and teenagers, into unintentional purchases and violating a significant federal law regarding children's privacy.

As part of the settlements, Epic agreed to pay $275 million to the US government to resolve allegations of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This violation stemmed from Epic's collection of personal information from children under the age of 13 without obtaining parental consent. In a separate settlement, Epic also committed to pay $245 million in refunds to consumers who purportedly suffered harm due to deceptive user-interface design choices, as asserted by the FTC.

The FTC, in its statement on Tuesday, accused Fortnite's creator of employing "dark patterns" and other deceptive strategies to manipulate players into making unwanted purchases, while also making it easy for children to accumulate charges without parental consent. (Note: "Dark patterns" are design tactics employed by various websites and apps, criticized for their manipulative effects on digital user behavior.)

The FTC is currently notifying potentially eligible users who can claim a portion of the $245 million settlement fund. Users may receive an email from the FTC with a claim number within the next month, or they can directly visit the settlement website and submit a claim using their Epic account ID.

The following individuals are eligible to apply for compensation:

Users who were billed in in-game currency for items they did not intend to purchase between January 2017 and September 2022.

Parents whose children made unauthorized charges on their credit cards while playing Fortnite between January 2017 and November 2018.

Users whose accounts were locked at any point between January 2017 and September 2022 after they reported wrongful charges to their credit card companies.

To be eligible for a claim, applicants must be at least 18 years old. For younger users, their parents or legal guardians can submit a claim on their behalf. The deadline for submitting a claim and becoming part of the settlement class is January 17, 2024. The specific individual settlement amounts have not been disclosed at this time.

In addition to the monetary settlements, Epic Games agreed to several stipulations as part of its agreement with the FTC. These include a prohibition on the use of dark patterns or unauthorized charges without user consent. Furthermore, Epic is barred from blocking users' access to their accounts as a response to chargeback requests from credit card companies disputing unwanted charges.

Epic Games, in a blog post from December when the agreement was reached, emphasized that no game developer intends to find themselves in such a situation. They stated that they accepted the agreement to position themselves as leaders in consumer protection and to provide the best possible experience for their players.

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