Dutch Authorities Fine Epic Games €1.1 Million for Exploiting Children in Fortnite

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, €1.1 million for exploiting and pressuring children into making in-game purchases through aggressive and deceptive practices, including countdown timers and misleading advertising. The ACM's decision serves as a warning to other game companies to prioritize fair and ethical business practices when targeting young audiences. This description focuses on the primary topic of the article (the fine imposed on Epic Games), the main entities involved (ACM and Epic Games), the context of online gaming, and the significant actions and consequences of the decision. The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the concept of in-game purchases, countdown timers, and misleading advertising.

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Dutch Authorities Fine Epic Games €1.1 Million for Exploiting Children in Fortnite

Dutch Authorities Fine Epic Games €1.1 Million for Exploiting Children in Fortnite

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has imposed a fine of €1.1 million (approximately $1.2 million) on Epic Games, the developer of the popular online game Fortnite, for exploiting and pressuring children into making in-game purchases in the game's Item Shop.

Why this matters: This decision highlights the growing concern over the exploitation of children in online gaming and serves as a warning to other game companies to prioritize fair and ethical business practices when targeting young audiences. The regulation of in-game purchases and monetization strategies will have a significant impact on the gaming industry and its relationship with young players.

The ACM found that Epic Games used "illegal aggressive commercial practices" to pressure children into making purchases. This included using phrases such as "Get it now" or "Buy now" that directly exhorted children to make purchases, resulting in a fine of €550,000. The authority also found that Epic Games implemented "deceptive" and "misleading" countdown timers that created a false sense of urgency, leading children to believe that items would disappear when the clock hit zero, resulting in another fine of €550,000.

ACM board member Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh stated, "Children's vulnerabilities were exploited and were thus pressured into making purchases." The ACM has ordered Epic Games to comply with the order by June 10, 2024, and to implement changes to prevent similar practices in the future.

In response to the decision, Epic Games has filed an objection and proposed several changes to the game. The company has already removed countdown timers from the Item Shop worldwide and agreed to only offer purchases in the Item Shop that are available for 48 hours or more in the Netherlands. However, Epic Games claims that the proposed changes would result in a "poor experience for players."

The ACM believes that if Epic Games implements these changes, they will comply with the binding instruction. The authority will check on the company's progress after the June 10, 2024 deadline. Hijmans van den Bergh emphasized the importance of the decision, stating, "With this decision, we are sending a clear signal: children must be able to play online games without being put under undue pressure."

The fine imposed on Epic Games highlights the growing concern over the exploitation of children in online gaming. As more games offer in-game purchases and monetization strategies, regulators are increasingly scrutinizing the practices of game developers to ensure that they do not take advantage of vulnerable children. The ACM's decision serves as a warning to other game companies to prioritize fair and ethical business practices when targeting young audiences.

Key Takeaways

  • Epic Games fined €1.1 million for exploiting children with in-game purchases in Fortnite.
  • ACM found "illegal aggressive commercial practices" and "deceptive" countdown timers.
  • Epic Games must comply with order by June 10, 2024, and implement changes.
  • Company has removed countdown timers and agreed to 48-hour purchase availability.
  • Decision highlights growing concern over exploitation of children in online gaming.