insane fine for microtransactions, it stings

The ax fell on Fortnite and Epic Games was sentenced to pay a simply insane fine.

A lawsuit against Epic Games has been pending for some time after the complaints started in 2019 and was recently accepted. There were lengthy discussions between Epic Games and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) that ended with an agreement between the two sides.

Fortnite has been accused of exploiting its youngest users

In the main lines, Fortnite it was accused of luring young users into making purchases and having a purposefully inappropriate interface to facilitate unwanted transactions. As a bonus, Epic Games has been criticized for endangering its players, children and teenagers, for example by connecting them to online text and voice chat automatically and without their consent. Which, according to the FTC, would lead to many harms, including “harassment and verbal or sexual harassment.”
Finally, the FTC accuses Epic of knowingly using the personal information of very young users without parental consent, which is usually required here. In other words, Fortnite is in the sauce and now Epic must answer for their actions. What he agreed to do.

After several days of discussions, the punishment finally fell on the industry giant, and Epic Games will have to pay a fine of $520 million. Yes, half a billion dollars, 275 million of which will go to compensating players, which the FTC will decide a little later. The American commission is also pleased to achieve a genuine visit, as this agreement is the largest ever recorded by the organization. It should also be said that there were many complaints.

Epic Games’ response to microtransactions…

In turn, Epic Games issued a press release to consider and clarify certain points. The giant said it accepted the FTC settlement specifically to set an example for the rest of the industry, and that it will seek to strengthen and change some of its practices. The first changes should come soon.

No developer makes a game with the intention of finding themselves in this situation. Laws written decades ago don’t dictate how gaming ecosystems should work. The laws have not changed, but their enforcement has evolved and long-standing industry practices are no longer sufficient. We agreed to this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.
Saving default payment information is a common way to make the process more convenient, so players don’t have to re-enter their information every time they make a purchase. We have agreed with the FTC to change this practice and now offer an explicit “yes or no” option to record payment information.
Pushing a button to make a quick purchase is one of the most used mechanisms in the industry and one of the easiest ways to shop online. However, we don’t want players to pay for something they don’t want to pay for. We’ve updated our payment methods with a new option that requires the player to confirm again before purchasing. This acts as an additional safeguard to prevent unexpected purchases. It will also be possible to cancel instant purchases and self-service payments.

Epic games

… and when it comes to protecting young players

On the other hand, Epic Games refutes some of the FTC’s accusations, especially regarding the use of personal data and the protection of young players, although there is still a lot of work to be done in this direction. It also explains that it implements many parental control options and a large number of protection settings Fortnite.

Young players interested in certain popular games can always find ways to access them. Developers should actively create age-appropriate ways for players to enjoy their games. We recently launched a new kind of Epic account that offers a tailored, safe and inclusive experience for young players. Players under the age of 13 (age depends on their country’s laws) will be able to play Fortnite, but must obtain parental consent. They will then be able to play the game in a customized environment where certain features such as chat and purchases are disabled. In September, we implemented high default privacy settings for players under the age of 18. Players under 16 also have a censorship filter enabled by default for text chat.

The old status quo regarding commerce and personal data in video games has changed, and many developer practices need to be rethought. We share the core principles of fairness, transparency, and privacy that the FTC upholds, and the practices cited in the FTC’s complaints are inconsistent with the way Fortnite operates. We will continue to be honest about what players can expect when shopping, make cancellations and refunds simple, and implement safeguards to keep our ecosystem safe and fun for audiences of all ages.

Epic games

Epic Games’ condemnation (or settlement depending on their point of view) should really set an example for the rest of the industry and may even affect other games in the medium or long term. Whether this will allow certain practices to disappear or at least become completely transparent remains to be seen.
However, this is not the first time that a game has caused a scandal due to practices that are considered questionable or simply inappropriate.
We still remember the disastrous launch of Star Wars Battlefront 2 and its loot boxes, or more recently the controversy surrounding Diablo Immortal and, to a lesser extent, Overwatch 2 . If you are not required by law, the FTC or any other organization to trust this game. Every time the topic, players just can’t take it anymore and tolerate this kind of content less and less. Paradoxically, microtransactions, season passes, and other battle passes have never been more numerous and popular. So maybe a middle way should be found.

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