Epic Games, the developer behind the massive online shooter Fortnite, has agreed to pay a total of $540 million to settle allegations made by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
In a post on the official FTC website, the agency confirmed that the developer will pay a $275 million penalty for violating children’s privacy law along with $245 million worth of refunds for tricking users into making unwanted purchases.
The FTC alleges that Epic Games "deployed design tricks, known as dark patterns (which Wikipedia defines as "a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying overpriced insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills"), to dupe millions of players into making unintentional purchases". The penalty levied against the developer is the largest ever obtained for violating an FTC rule, and Epic Games will be required to "adopt strong privacy default settings for children and teens, ensuring that voice and text communications are turned off by default".
Regarding the refunds, "Epic will pay $245 million to refund consumers for its dark patterns and billing practices, which is the FTC’s largest refund amount in a gaming case, and its largest administrative order in history."
FTC Chair Lina M. Khan, said the following regarding the settlement:
"As our complaints note, Epic used privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teenagers and children. Protecting the public, and especially children, from online privacy invasions and dark patterns is a top priority for the Commission, and these enforcement actions make clear to businesses that the FTC is cracking down on these unlawful practices.”