The greatest video game refund will go to Fortnite players for the following reasons.

by Sanj Atwal; Edited by News Gate Team

photo by guinnessworldrecords

The largest videogame refund in history, $245 million (£199 million) was ordered to be paid to Fortnite players by Epic Games in December.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claims that Epic Games tricked millions of Fortnite players into making unintentional purchases from the game’s item shop by using design techniques known as “dark patterns.”

FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement that “Epic employed privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that deceived Fortnite users, especially teenagers and minors.”

It is both the largest administrative order in FTC history and the largest return sum in a gaming matter.

Affected Fortnite players have not yet been paid out, however, the FTC will notify customers once the refund program has been fully set up. More information can be found on the official settlement website.

What are dark patterns?

Dark patterns are sneaky web tricks that trick people into acting in ways they didn’t want to.

The FTC claimed that in this instance, “Fortnite’s illogical, inconsistent, and confusing button arrangement led gamers to incur unnecessary charges based on the press of a single button.”

Players might incur charges, for instance, when attempting to wake the game from sleep mode, during a loading screen, or by tapping a nearby button while attempting to preview an item.

Up until 2018, Epic Games permitted kids to buy V-Bucks (Fortnite’s in-game currency) by only pressing buttons, without requesting any interaction from or permission from the card holder.

The FTC has brought similar claims against companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google for billing users for in-app purchases made by children without obtaining their parents’ consent.

Not only did Epic wrongly process these transactions, but they also made them difficult to cancel.

According to the FTC, Epic locked the accounts of customers who disputed unauthorized charges with their credit card companies. Players whose accounts were blocked lost access to all the content they had previously purchased.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was allegedly violated by Epic, who were also sentenced to pay a record-breaking $275 million punishment – the biggest payment ever assessed for disobeying an FTC rule.

Due to the settlements, Epic has implemented new, more stringent privacy settings for users under the age of 18, ensuring that voice and text communications are disabled by default.

In reaction, Epic stated that “no developer designs a game with the purpose of ending up here. In addition to immediate purchase cancellations and self-service refunds, “We’ve upgraded our payment processes with a hold-to-purchase logic that re-confirms a player’s decision to buy, as an extra protection to prevent unintentional purchases.”

Several high-profile lawsuits and regulatory judgements have been brought against videogame publishers in recent years, with most relating to parental controls and the packaging of in-game purchases. The largest comparable videogame refund was the $51.2 million paid out by publisher CD Projekt Red over the poor state of its much-hyped open-world game Cyberpunk 2077 (2020).

by Sanj Atwal; Edited by News Gate Team

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