why does it matter: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ended an existing order that orders Fortnite publisher Epic Games to pay $245 million for its use of deceptive design patterns. According to the request, Epic used “dark patterns” to trick Fortnite players into making unintentional in-game purchases. The $245 million raised will be used to refund users affected by deceptive design practices.
The ruling relates to a A pair of complaints on Epic Games late last year, both of which stem from Epic’s use of dark design patterns to drive in-game purchases. Epic was initially sanctioned with $275 million last December after being found guilty of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The latest ruling will award an additional $245 million in refunds to Epic customers who inadvertently prompted them to make unintentional in-game purchases without warning and, in some cases, without parental supervision.
The FTC is finalizing an order that requires Fortnite maker Epic Games to pay $245 million to trick users into paying unwanted fees. The FTC will use the funds to provide refunds to consumers: https://t.co/Mp7JJyRk7y
– FTC (@FTC) March 14, 2023
Dark styles are deceptive design techniques used in websites and other user interfaces. They are usually used with the sole purpose of luring users into a specific scenario and tricking them into taking actions they may not have intended to take, such as purchasing a product or subscription. Harry BrignoleA well-known expert on trick design concepts, he has cataloged more than 400 cases These types of deceptive design patterns are common across companies ranging from Facebook to Google to Amazon and Adobe.
According to the FTC the findingsFortnite used “illogical, inconsistent, and confusing button configurations” to lead players into an accidental purchase scenario. Once there, users of all ages had the ability to make various in-game purchases with the press of a button, most of the time without warning and without a prompt to verify the user’s identity or status.
As a result, many players found themselves charged for items they had no intention of purchasing. This has also resulted in a number of children being given the ability to make purchases without parental consent or supervision, inadvertently allowing them to incur unsupervised in-game charges.
In addition to the dishonest selling tactics, the FTC complaint also highlighted Epic’s moves to lock the accounts of users who legally objected to unintended charges.
In addition to the dishonest selling tactics, the FTC complaint also highlighted Epic’s moves to lock the accounts of users who legally objected to unintended charges. According to the complaint, users who inquired about unintentional charges and legally challenged transactions with their credit card companies found themselves locked out of their Epic Games accounts and unable to play the game.
The committee voted unanimously to approve the complaint, which resulted in the ability to finalize the $245 million fine imposed on Epic. The penalty will be used to provide refunds to affected users. The order also prevents Epic from further locking the accounts of anyone who disputes the unintentional charge.
The ruling is another step in the right direction to protect customers of all ages from unfair, and in this case unscrupulous, business practices. We urge any Fortnite players and consumers affected by Epic’s use of dark modes to visit FTC.gov/Fortnite For information about refund eligibility and instructions.