Fortnite Maker Epic Games Fined $1.2 Million For Item Shop Design
Gaming

Fortnite Maker Epic Games Fined $1.2 Million For Item Shop Design

The Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets fined Epic Games for two violations over Fortnite's Item Shop design.

The Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets has fined Epic Games for €1,125,000 (roughly $1.2 million) over issues "unfair commercial practices aimed at children in Fortnite" in the game's Item Shop. The Netherlands competition regulator found that the American developer/publisher "failed to observe the required care that can be reasonably expected from traders when dealing with children." According to the fine, certain language on the Item Shop is designed to make children fear missing out on in-game items, and can often prove misleading.

ACM's release shared that the fine boils down to two specific violations, each of which will cost Epic Games €562,500. The first of the fines from the ACM is considered an "illegal aggressive commercial practice." According to its investigation, ACM is alleging that phrases such as "Get it now" or "Buy now", which encouraged children to make purchases in the game, are too aggressive.

The second violation relates to the countdown timers that appear in Fortnite's Item Shop. In its investigation, ACM pointed out how the items were still available even after the timer had reached zero, claiming that these timers put children "under pressure to make purchase decisions quickly,"invoking a fear of missing out (FOMO( if they don't purchase the items being offered, which increases the risk of impulse buying. ACM calls these types of timers to be "deceptive" and "misleading".

ACM says that "companies need to do business with the utmost care, particularly when offering products to children." Epic Games has been given a deadline of June 10 to act on "a binding instruction". ACM says that the company must end the violation by "reducing the uncertainty regarding the availability of its offerings in the Item Shop, and by extending the decision period for children under the age of 18 years regarding purchases in the Item Shop."

It now appears that the fines partly prompted updates to Fortnite's Item Shop. AMC said that "Epic has informed ACM of its plans to implement several changes to Fortnite’s Item Shop in order to end the violation," pointing to the same changes.

Epic Games Disputes the Decision

In a statement shared to GamesIndustry.biz, the company objected to the decision, arguing the report presented "significant factual errors about how Fortnite and the Item Shop operate" and that the mandated changes would "result in a poor experience for players."

"The findings in the ACM's decision contain significant factual errors about how Fortnite and the Item Shop operate. The ACM is mandating changes that would result in a poor experience for players. We will appeal this decision," Epic Games said in a statement. "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."

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Last month, the company announced that cosmetic colors and tiers would be removed from the Item Shop, and beginning in late May, the shop timers would "instead display the player’s local time when the Item Shop will refresh and items may leave the Shop," and "the date that an item will rotate out of the shop" would be added to the description of the cosmetics.

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Jake Vyper (627 Articles Published)

Founder of Epicflix.com. Fantasy & Sci-Fi enthusiast.