Epic Games has to pay the FTC $520 million over Fortnite

By Nicholas James


Dec 20, 2022

Reading time: 2 min

Epic Games is being made to pay the United States Federal Trade Commission, the FTC, $520 million over anti-consumer complaints about Fortnite.

Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world, maintaining a multi-year presence in the gaming space as one of its juggernauts. However, one of the United States’ largest regulatory bodies has found developer Epic Games guilty of massive anti-consumer action, specifically relating to compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA, and charging players without their expressed and informed consent.

Epic Games owes FTC more than half a billion dollars

The FTC has leveraged fines related to complaints the federal regulator has with the practices of Epic Games that total $520 million. These are some of the largest fines leveraged by the organization, and certainly the largest federal fine against a video game developer. The FTC filing refers to two central complaints about Epic Games’ behavior, its failure to adequately protect underage players as per COPPA regulation, and its use of anti-consumer practices to make accidental purchases easy and refunding such mistakes harder. Relating to the failure to abide by COPPA, an Epic Games employee cited in the FTC fine responded with the following statement.

“Our voice and chat controls are total crap as far as kids and parents go. It’s not a good thing. It was on my list a year ago, but never bubbled to the surface. This is one of those things that the company generally has a weak will to pursue, but really impacts our overall system and perception,” they said.

The secondary complaint of anti-consumer “dark patterns” relates to Epic Games’ decisions to make unintentional purchases easier and refunds more difficult. While Fortnite does have a refund option in the menu in the current version, that function didn’t exist for most of the game’s lifespan. The FTC outlined two fines, one for each area of improper conduct, $275 million for the COPPA complaint alongside $245 million for the dark patterns complaint.