The Federal Trade Commission has announced that Epic Games, the creator of the popular Fortnite video game, must pay $245 million to consumers as part of a settlement for charges that the company used dark patterns to deceive players into making unwanted purchases and allowed children to make unauthorized charges without parental consent.
The FTC’s complaint, which was part of a settlement package with Epic, accused the company of using a variety of design tricks, known as dark patterns, of inducing consumers of all ages to make unintended in-game purchases.
Additionally, the complaint claimed that Epic made it easy for children to purchase while playing Fortnite without requiring parental consent. The company also locked customers’ accounts who disputed unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.
Under the FTC’s order, Epic must pay $245 million, which will be used to provide consumer refunds. The order also prohibits the company from using dark patterns or other means to charge consumers without their consent. Furthermore, Epic is barred from blocking consumers’ access to their accounts for disputing unauthorized charges.
After receiving five comments, the Commission approved the complaint and order against Epic and the responses to the commenters.
In a separate settlement also announced in December, Epic agreed to pay a $275 million penalty to settle FTC allegations that the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule.
Consumers who believe they may have been affected by Epic’s practices can visit FTC.gov/Fortnite for more information on the refund process.