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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Epic Games fined €1.1m for in-game advertising in Fortnite

According to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), game developer Epic Games was fined €1.1m (~£943,530) for allegedly “using unfair commercial practices” in Fortnite in the Netherlands.

After examining, the ACM discovered language in Fortnite’s in-game store that exploited children’s vulnerabilities. This includes making purchases within the game by utilizing phrases like “Get it now” or “Buy now.” ACM alleges that Epic Games engaged in “an illegal aggressive commercial practice” that resulted in one of two fines of €562,500 because of the wording employed. Another fine of the same amount levied by the ACM concerns the countdown timers for items in the game.

“In the popular game Fortnite, children’s vulnerabilities were exploited and were thus pressured into making purchases. With this decision, we are sending a clear signal: children must be able to play online games without being put under undue pressure. These practices by Epic erode confidence in the digital economy.” said one of the board members.

After the inquiry, the ACM gave Epic Games the order to “reduce the uncertainty” around the availability of things in the Fortnite store and to provide younger players who are under the age of 18 more time to make decisions before making a purchase.

“While our appeal is pending, players in the Netherlands that are under the age of 18 will not be able to see or purchase items that are in the shop for less than 48 hours, beginning May 24, 2024,” claims Epic following the verdict from authorities.

Changes made by the developers include:

  • Removing the Item Shop timer to display instead the player’s local time when the Item Shop will refresh and items may leave the Shop
  • Removing tiers and colors of cosmetics in the Item Shop
  • Adding the date that an item will rotate out of the shop to the Item Description on May 24, 2024

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