The FTC ruling states that Epic Games used deceptive methods to trick users into making unwanted purchases.

Why is it important: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has finalized an existing order requiring Fortnite publisher Epic Games to pay $245 million for using deceptive design patterns. As ordered, Epic used “dark patterns” to force Fortnite players to make unintentional in-game purchases. The $245 million raised will be used to reimburse affected users affected by bad design practices.

The decision concerns a pair of complaints filed against Epic Games late last year, both of which related to Epic’s use of dark design patterns to encourage in-game purchases. Epic was initially fined $275 million last December after being found guilty of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

A more recent decision would require an additional $245 million to reimburse Epic customers who were unknowingly forced to make unintentional in-game purchases without warning and, in some cases, without parental supervision.

Dark patterns are misleading design practices used on websites and other user interfaces. They are usually used for the sole purpose of luring users into a particular scenario and getting them to take actions they may not have intended to take, such as buying a product or a subscription. Harry Brignullrenowned specialist in misleading design concepts, has cataloged more 400 copies such misleading design patterns at various companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Adobe.

According to the FTC conclusionsFortnite used “controversial, inconsistent, and confusing button configurations” to lure players into an unintentional purchase scenario. Once there, users of all ages were able to make various in-game purchases at the touch of a button, in most cases without being warned or asked to verify the user’s identity or status.

As a result, many players found themselves being charged for items they had no intention of purchasing. It also resulted in a number of children being given the option to make purchases without parental consent or supervision, allowing them to unknowingly incur out-of-control in-game spending.

In addition to dishonest sales tactics, the FTC complaint also highlights Epic’s actions to block the accounts of users who legally contested inadvertent payments.

In addition to dishonest sales tactics, the FTC complaint also highlights Epic’s actions to block the accounts of users who legally contested inadvertent payments. According to the complaint, users who were interested in inadvertent payments and legally challenged transactions with their credit card companies found themselves locked out of their Epic Games accounts and unable to play the game.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the complaint, allowing the payment of the $245 million fine imposed on Epic to be completed. The fine will be used to refund affected users. The order also prohibits Epic from further blocking the accounts of anyone who disputes unintentional payments.

This decision is another step in the right direction to protect customers of all ages from unfair and in this case unfair business practices. All Fortnite players and consumers affected by Epic’s use of dark patterns are strongly encouraged to visit for information on eligibility for a refund and instructions.

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