The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun its claims process over a $245 million settlement with Fortnite video game maker Epic Games over controversial purchase practices.
The action stems from a settlement finalized in March 2023 from a complaint announced in December 2022 with Epic Games over allegations that it used “dark patterns and other deceptive practices to trick players into making unwanted purchases.”
The FTC alleged that Epic Games deployed various design tricks aimed at getting consumers of all ages to make unintended in-game purchases. The age rating for Fortnite in the UK is 12 and above, while it is 13 and above in the United States.
The money provided as part of the $245 million settlement will go towards providing refunds to consumers.
The FTC has now begun the process of notifying more than 37 million people by email that they may be eligible for the compensation, a process which it says will take one month to complete.
Consumers will have until January 17, 2024, to submit a claim.
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The FTC said in a statement: “The company also made it easy for children to rack up charges without parental consent and locked the accounts of consumers who disputed unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.”
Earlier this year the FTC applied for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block technology giant Microsoft’s $69-billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the prominent video game publisher, before the deal’s July 18 deadline.
The appeal, lodged at the Northern California District Court, is the latest move by the FTC to block the deal due to fears Microsoft could corner the market by withholding Activision’s library of popular games from launching on other game consoles, including Xbox rival Sony.