Epic Games Violates COPPA Pays $520 Million Worth of Fines

Epic Games sued.
Kostanay, Kazakhstan, January 29, 2019.Mobile phone on the keyboard background, with the logo of the popular game Fortnite from Epic Games. Source: Depositphotos

Epic Games Sued in Canada for Fortnite Troubles

Epic Games has recently agreed to pay massive fines as per a ruling in the US. The company that established Fortnite was accused of tricking gamers into spending money on the game and collecting sensitive information about kids without parental approval. In Canada, a Quebec Judge approved a lawsuit against Fortnite creator Epic Games. This decision was made after a few parents noticed that their kids were addicted to the game and spent money on in-game purchases without their consent. Epic Games has stated that they are working on changes that would curb this issue and protect youngsters.

Due to such accusations, Epic Games had to pay $520 million worth of fines. Credible casinos, listed on popular sites such as big win wall which operate within the limitations of responsible gambling, had raised concerns about these violations by Epic Games. Especially since the tussle between gambling and gaming frontrunners has always been evident, when it comes to provoking players into making real-cash investments.

Situation In the United States

On the 19th of December 2022, Epic Games finally agreed upon paying the fines imposed by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). This is an independent agency under the US Government that aims at customer protection. Epic Games had broken a law known as the COPPA or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. As per FTC, Epic Games directly violated the COPPA by collecting personal data from Fortnight gamers under 13 years of age without parental advice. It also accused the game of tricking kids into downloading in-game content with real money. Epic Games stated that they agreed to pay fines not because they were deliberately causing such issues but because they also value customer protection and want to continue to provide the best experience to gamers. 

Lawsuit Against Epic Games

A class action lawsuit basically indicates a group of people sharing similar problems and looking for a unanimous solution. This case against Fortnite was brought to courts by 3 Quebec parents in 2019 which now been granted permission to proceed. This started a long legal battle that could eventually take years to come to a conclusion.

The plaintiffs who have raised the argument against Fortnite and Epic Games claimed 2 things. They wished to get back all the money that their kids spent on in-game purchases. They also wanted compensation for the troubling behavior that their kids experienced while gaming. These behaviors included sleep deprivation, eating disorders, and zero socializing due to being engrossed in the game. Over 280 parents across Canada joined hands and raised their voices on this matter. In fact, with the changing political landscape in Canada, more such surveillance and reforming policies could be implemented to better monitor problem gaming and gambling problems.

What Does Natalie Munoz Say About This?

The communications director of Epic Games, Natalie Munoz stated to CBC that the company will fight this case in court since Epic Games have made several changes to the game post such complaints. She mentioned that they have focused on the player aspects and have enhanced policies, features, and payment mechanisms. The game has increased parental controls and encourages players to be honest about their age. Cabinet accounts are introduced where gamers under 13 years of age have to enter their guardian’s email address before unlocking all the features within the game. 

In A Nutshell

As per the Director of Education for a non-profit organization MediaSmarts, video games are designed in a manner that automatically makes gamers hooked to the game. However, there are things that players can adopt in order to protect themselves. A gamer must maintain a gaming diary and record his gaming schedules and sessions to understand them later. For in-game spending, he recommended turning off the in-game purchasing ability and buying of gift cards to remain conscious and physically limit the spending. Epic Games mentioned that in 2022-2023, 2.9-4 million concurrent gamers will take part in Fortnite.