Fortnite fined for pushing children to buy

Fortnite fined for pushing children to buy
Fortnite fined for pushing children to buy

Dutch authorities fined Epic Games 1.1 million euros on Tuesday. (Photo: 123RF)

Dutch authorities on Tuesday fined Epic Games, maker of the popular online game Fortnite, 1.1 million euros, saying it exploited vulnerable children and pressured them into making in-game purchases.

The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) hit the company with two separate fines totaling €1.1 million, after finding that underage gamers “could be pressured in several ways to make purchases.”

The ACM imposed the first fine for expressions used by the game such as “Get it now” or “Buy now”. Advertisements directly encouraging children to make purchases constitute “an illegal and aggressive commercial practice in all circumstances,” according to the authority.

The second fine was issued for “misleading” countdown timers that pressured children to make purchases quickly, making them believe the item would disappear at the end of the countdown – sometimes wrongly.

“Children’s vulnerabilities were exploited and therefore they were pushed into making purchases,” said ACM board member Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh.

“With this decision, we are sending a clear signal: children should be able to play games online without undue pressure,” she said.

The authority ordered Epic Games to comply with the order by June 10, 2024.

“The results… contain significant factual errors about the operation of Fortnite and the Item Shop,” the company said in a statement, contesting the decision.

Epic Games has already implemented several changes, including the removal of item store countdown timers worldwide, the ACM said.

For the Netherlands, the company will only offer minors purchases from the Item Shop available for 48 hours or more.

The “ACM is of the opinion that Epic will comply with the above binding instructions,” the statement said, and will verify this after June 10.

Epic Games, for its part, claimed that the changes would result in a “poor experience for players”.

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