Fortnite is one of the most popular video games of the present day, but a new class-action lawsuit currently being prepared in Canada is claiming that this fame has been bought via nefarious means.
According to Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal, Epic Games spent "many years" working with psychologists to find out how to make its Battle Royale game as addictive as possible so that players would become hopelessly hooked:
Epic Games, when they created Fortnite, for years and years, hired psychologists - they really dug into the human brain and they really made the effort to make it as addictive as possible. They knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth.
In our case, the two parents that came forward and told [us], 'If we knew it was so addictive it would ruin our child's life, we would never have let them start playing Fortnite or we would have monitored it a lot more closely'.
The case – which focuses on the parents of two minors, aged 10 and 15 – is being likened to the 2015 class-action suit against tobacco companies in which the Quebec Superior Court ruled that tobacco companies did not do enough to warn people about the dangers of smoking. It also cites the recent classification of gaming addiction as a disorder by the World Health Organisation.
In order to play Fortnite, users are asked to give up any right to sue Epic Games, and must instead go through individual arbitration, but Chartrand argues that these terms of service are null and void "because the province's Consumer Protection Act requires companies to clearly disclose risks associated with products or services."