Epic payout: FTC opens Fortnite settlement claim floodgates

Parents and players alike can now apply for a piece of the $245m pie

The US Federal Trade Commission has opened up a website so that anyone who feels they were tricked into spending money in Epic Games' hit shooter Fortnite can ask for a share of a $245 million settlement pie. 

That, of course, includes parents of children who spent money in the game inadvertently, and all 37 million-plus eligible individuals will be notified by email over the course of the next month, the FTC said.

Fortnite players and parents are eligible for a refund under three conditions: if they were charged for in-game currency they didn't actually want between January 2017 and September 2022; if their child made a purchase using their credit card without their knowledge between January 2017 and November 2018; and anyone whose account was locked between January 2017 and September 2022 after complaining about wrongful charges. 

For those blissfully unaware of Fortnite or the many "dances" it has driven gaggles of children to perform in the worst of possible public spaces, it's a battle royale free-for-all video game that makes millions in microtransactions used to buy cosmetic items, weapon skins, and other things that don't directly affect game play. 

Because the game itself is free, those microtransactions are how Fortnite and Epic Games make money. Last year Epic settled with the FTC on charges that Fortnite not only harmed children by improperly collecting their data and violating their privacy, but that it was also crammed full of so-called "dark patterns" in its interface that confuse users and trick them into spending on items, whether they intend to or not.

The settlements in the two cases totaled $520 million split between a fine for the privacy violations, and the remaining $245 million going toward in-app payment settlements. Both fines were record-high amounts for the FTC. 

Along with its recent losses at the hands of the FTC, Epic Games was also recently snubbed by the US Supreme Court after asking the top justices to lift a stay of a lower court order that would allow it to start offering in-app purchases outside Apple's own App Store and the iPhone giant's 30 percent cut. The Supremes denied to hear Epic's request without justification, meaning it'd be forced to keep paying Apple a 30 percent commission and use its in-app purchasing - if Epic had any apps left in the Apple App Store, that is. 

The deadline to file for a share of the pot in the FTC's Fornite settlement is January 17, 2024. Those filing will either need a claim number provided by the FTC in an email, or an Epic account ID, and can file a claim at this website. If all 37 million folks were to apply, each would get less than $7, so tell your friends - or don't. ®

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