Dutch Authority Fines Epic Games €1.125M Over Youth Marketing

Epic Games fined 1.125 million euros by Dutch ACM for pressuring young players in Fortnite with misleading ads and timers.

On May 14, 2024, the Dutch Consumer and Market Authority (ACM) imposed a fine on Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite, for pressuring young players into making in-game purchases.

The fines totaled 1.125 million euros, equivalent to about 8.786 million yuan, for using manipulative tactics such as “illegal” persuasive advertisements and misleading countdown timers.

These tactics were specifically cited as exploiting the vulnerabilities of minors, coercing them into spending.

ACM also noted that Epic Games employed multiple design features termed as “dark patterns.”

Despite countdowns, players could still purchase items, adding unnecessary complexity under the guise of a 24-hour timer, which made it difficult for players to understand the promotional activities.

Cateautje Hijmans van den Berg from ACM emphasized the responsibility of companies to be aware of the heightened susceptibility of children to certain incentives.

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The ruling aims to ensure that children can enjoy online games without undue pressure, highlighting the need for trust in the digital economy.

Epic Games disagreed with the ruling and announced plans to appeal. They clarified that accounts for users under 16 could not make real-money purchases or use certain social features without permission.

Additionally, Epic Games confirmed that items available in the Fortnite store for less than 48 hours would not be purchasable in the Netherlands until the issue is resolved, and reiterated their commitment to removing countdown timers from the virtual store.

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Dutch Authority Fines Epic Games €1.125M Over Youth Marketing

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