Fortnite Developer Epic Games is being fined $520 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and there’s a chance it could get paid.
Of that $520 million total, $245 million will be reimbursed to customers. The refunds are intended for those affected by the company’s billing and refund practices, primarily players (and parents of younger players) who were charged for unwanted cosmetics and had their account locked out if they tried to dispute the charges with their companies. of credit cards.
If you’ve experienced anything like this with Epic Games, this is an ongoing story you’ll want to pay attention to. This is all we know at this time about who is eligible for a refund and what the deal might look like.
What you need to know about the Fortnite FTC settlement
The $275 million monetary penalty for violating the COPPA rule that Epic Games has been awarded is the largest penalty ever obtained for violating an FTC rule, according to the FTC. The order was finalized in March 2023.
The settlement is the result of two separate FTC complaints.
The first complaint alleged that Epic violated the COPPA rule by collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 who played games. Fortnite, an online service directed at children, without notifying their parents or obtaining verifiable consent from their parents. Epic Games also violated the FTC Act’s prohibition of unfair practices by allowing real-time voice and text chat communications for children and teens by default.
The second complaint alleged that Epic used shady patterns to trick players into making unwanted purchases and allow children to rack up unauthorized charges without parental involvement.
“As our complaints point out, Epic used privacy-invading default settings and deceptive interfaces that misled Fortnite users, including teens and children,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “Protecting the public, and especially children, from online invasions of privacy and dark patrons is one of the Commission’s top priorities, and these enforcement actions make it clear to companies that the FTC is taking action. strong against these illegal practices”.
Epic Games publicly commented on the settlement in a blog post, outlining the effort it has made to protect the privacy of young gamers and changes to payment systems over the years.
“No developer makes a game with the intention of ending up here. The video game industry is a place of rapid innovation, where player expectations are high and new ideas are paramount. Statutes written decades ago do not specify how gaming ecosystems should operate,” the statement read. “The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved and longstanding industry practices are no longer sufficient. We accept this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”
The post goes on to describe the changes that Epic Games has made to Fortnite settings and policies following the settlement, including offering more explicit language when saving payment information and expanding privacy protections for young people.
Who is eligible for a refund?
According to the FTC, refunds will be available to the following people:
- Parents whose children made an unauthorized credit card purchase on the Epic Games Store between January 2017 and November 2018
- Fortnite players who were charged in-game currency (V-Bucks) for unwanted in-game items (such as cosmetics, llamas, or battle passes) between January 2017 and September 2022
- Fortnite players whose accounts were blocked between January 2017 and September 2022 after disputing unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.
When will refunds be paid?
At this time, there is no timeline as to when Epic Games will be made to send out refunds to eligible players or how long it will take to resolve a claims process.
What do I have to do to get a refund?
This deal is still in its early days, so there’s no race to prove it’s eligible. Here’s the official word from the FTC: “If you think you’re eligible for a payment, you don’t need to do anything at this time.”
The FTC recommends marking your official Fortnite page and expect more information as the behind-the-scenes deal progresses. We will also be watching and updating this page as more information becomes available.
As a reminder, the FTC will never charge you a fee to file a claim or get a refund. With news of the deal going mainstream, there will no doubt be scams afoot, so be careful.