Turns out they made a very costly mistake.
In an industry shake-up, an order from the United States FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has been finalized, requiring Epic Games to pay $245 million for using “dark patterns to trick players into making unwanted purchases” in Fortnite. To make matters worse, the FTC further states these patterns allowed kids to “rack up unauthorized charges without any parental involvement.”
The $245 million will be used by the FTC to refund consumers that fell prey to these issues. This was only exacerbated by a different part of the FTC’s complaint that says, “Epic also locked the accounts of customers who disputed unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.”
Not only is Epic Games made to pay this fine, but the order further makes it so they can’t continue banning people who make disputes or issue chargebacks. It is also required that consumers cannot be charged “without obtaining their affirmative consent.” This was likely the reason behind the chance months ago in the Item Shop, where purchases now require holding a button for a certain length of time to go through.
This was set in motion in December, but the $245 million isn’t the only fine handed down. A separate part of the settlement with the FTC brought about an additional payment of $275 million regarding “allegations that the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule.”
If any of this applies to you, the FTC has set up a specific website to work on getting your owed refund.
This is nothing but bad publicity for Epic Games, and it is unknown how this might change how other games with a large younger population (like Roblox) adjust their monetization to avoid running afoul of the FTC.