The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined Epic Games 1,125,000 euros due to the use of unfair and aggressive commercial practices targeting children in the popular game Fortnite.

ACM’s investigation revealed that the company exploited children’s vulnerabilities through design and marketing in the game’s item shop, leading to the imposition of two substantial fines that, when combined, amounted to this amount. Check out more details:

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Aggressive marketing for Fortnite in the Netherlands

Fortnite is a free game and has a very colorful design, with charismatic and animated characters. Especially now, which has several other types of game modes in addition to Battle Royale, it ends up becoming more and more attractive to children and young people.

It turns out that a key point of the game is its store, which changes every day with new skin offers, as well as gestures and items. Furthermore, the store currently has partnerships with several other companies and has skins from various intellectual properties such as Marvel heroes, popular animes such as Dragon Ball and Naruto, characters from other games and cartoons, and even singers from around the world. pop, which increases this appeal.

And the problem was precisely there. It turns out that ACM identified that Epic Games used imperative phrases such as “buy now” and “get now” in advertisements for its store, characterizing them as illegal aggressive commercial practices. This approach was seen as a form of pressure on children, encouraging them to make impulsive purchases. In response to this violation, Epic was fined €562,500.

Another aspect criticized by the ACM was the use of countdown timers in advertisements for items in the Fortnite store. These timers suggested a false sense that that item would run out, even when they were still available after the time had run out.

This practice was considered to exploit children’s fear of missing opportunities, resulting in a second fine of €562,500.

Epic Games’ responsibility and action

Fortnite store image

Recognizing the need to protect vulnerable consumers, the ACM emphasized that traders should consider children’s increased susceptibility to certain business practices. “Epic actually exploited these types of vulnerabilities by failing to exercise due caution when dealing with children,” the official said.

In response to the decision, the ACM gave Epic until June 10, 2024 to correct these practices. The company has already started implementing changes, such as removing countdown timers and adding clear information about when the store will update and when items will be removed. From May 24, 2024, players under the age of 18 in the Netherlands will only be able to view items in the store if they will be available for 48 hours or more.

Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, ACM board member, highlighted the responsibility of companies offering products for children: “Children’s vulnerabilities were exploited in Fortnite, pressuring them to make purchases. With this decision, we send a clear signal: children should be able to play online games without being pressured. These Epic practices erode trust in the digital economy.”

In response, Epic Games challenged the ACM’s conclusions, alleging significant factual errors about the operation of Fortnite and its item store. “The ACM is demanding changes that would result in a poor experience for players. We will appeal this decision.”, the company stated. While the appeal is pending, the changes to store practices will remain in effect for players under 18 in the Netherlands.

Fonte: gamesindustry


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