Epic Games pays $520 million to the FTC over “design tricks” in Fortnite, privacy issues

Briefly

  • Fortnite creator Epic Games will pay $520 million in FTC settlements over allegations of in-game buying and protecting young players.
  • Epic Games is worth $31.5 billion and is “building the metaverse.”

Epic Games, creator of the popular and self-described online action game Fortnite Metaverse builders, will pay a A total of $520 million in settlements to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for failing to protect children’s in-game privacy, as well as for deceptive practices related to in-game purchases.

The Federal Trade Commission announced the settlements Monday morning. The $520 million total includes a $275 million fine that will be paid to the agency for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), while another $245 million will be reimbursed to affected users through the FTC for what it calls “dark patterns and” billing practices.

“Epic used privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that deceived Fortnite users, including teens and children,” FTC Chair Lena M. Khan said in a statement. “These enforcement actions demonstrate to companies that the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on these illegal practices.”

The standard COPPA penalty relates to the agency’s allegations that Epic Games collected personal data from children under the age of 13 without notifying their parents. Epic also made it difficult for parents who then wanted that information deleted, the agency claims, and didn’t always follow up when asked.

Additionally, Epic Games enabled voice and text chat by default for younger players, which led to potential harassment from other users. Regarding the second settlement, the FTC alleged that Epic used “unintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration” to trick players into making unintentional in-game purchases worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

It also allows kids to purchase in-game currency V-Bucks from Fortnite without parental confirmation, and will ban accounts of users who have disputed unintentional purchases with their credit card company.

In a statement today, Epic Games acknowledged the settlements, saying they reflect the evolving standards in the video game industry. The company said it has already implemented a number of changes in both child protection and monetization.

“No developer creates a game with the intention of it ending up here. The video game industry is a place of fast-moving innovation, where player expectations are high and new ideas are paramount,” the Epic statement read. “We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and delivering the best experience for our players.”

Epic Metaverse

Fortnite doesn’t bill itself as a metaverse game, in part because it has a closed ecosystem. Users can purchase items such as characters and weapon skins with V-Bucks, but these items remain locked into the Fortnite game world. Likewise, players cannot acquire assets purchased in competing games.

However, Epic Games has increasingly positioned itself as a major creator of the metaverse, Matthew said Raised $2 billion in April At a valuation of $31.5 billion. Epic Games has joined Metaverse Standards Forum (MSF) along with companies like Meta and Microsoft, is also building a kid-friendly, official LEGO-themed metaverse game universe.

the Metaverse Refers to a future version of the Internet where users interact with each other using avatars in 3D environments. It is believed that the metaverse will be used for all kinds of activities, including work, play, shopping, games, and more.

However, there are competing visions of what the future looks like. Web 3 The builders believe that the metaverse should be built using blockchain technology, enabling open, interoperable platforms that can use assets owned by the same player via NFT.

Existing Web2 giants like Meta and Epic Games don’t yet have detailed plans to build their metaverse platforms using Web3 technology, although both have dabbled in the field. Meta has NFTs integrated within the platforms Like Instagram and Facebook, while Epic Games NFT video games are allowed To be sold via the Epic Games Store marketplace.

Last week, Epic Private accounts with limited access for its games — including Fortnite and Rocket League — for children under 13 to use as “a new way for kids to join the metaverse,” apparently ahead of the expected FTC announcement.

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