Fortnite players in the United States who have been charged for unwanted in-app purchases can now request refunds, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on Wednesday.
Epic Games, the developer of the popular online game, finalized an unprecedented $245 million settlement agreement in March to address allegations raised by the FTC.
These allegations involve Epic Games charging players, including parents, for undesired in-game items and, in some instances, locking user accounts when they contested these charges with their credit card providers.
According to the FTC, some Fortnite players and parents encountered issues such as unauthorized storage of payment information, inadequate purchase confirmation options, challenging cancellation processes, and account restrictions for those disputing charges.
Parents over 18, whose children may have made in-app purchases without their consent, can apply for refunds until Jan. 17, 2024.
While Fortnite can be downloaded and played for free, Epic Games generates revenue by offering various in-game items for purchase. These items encompass costumes, dance moves, and llama-shaped piñatas filled with in-game items, all available for a fee.
The FTC cited a range of deceptive tactics employed by Epic Games to induce unintended purchases by users of all ages, including children, without obtaining parental consent.
Starting Tuesday, the FTC began email outreach to more than 37 million Fortnite players in the United States, with this communication expected to continue for a month.
Eligibility for refunds is granted to individuals charged in-game currency for unintended purchases between January 2017 and September 2022. Additionally, refunds can be requested if charges were incurred on their credit card without their knowledge by a child between January 2017 and November 2018.
Furthermore, individuals can seek refunds if their Fortnite accounts were locked between January 2017 and September 2022 after disputing unauthorized charges with their credit card company.
The FTC issued a warning to potential claimants, advising them not to pay anyone promising an FTC refund in exchange for a fee, as the FTC does not charge fees for claim submissions or refunds.
To guide those affected through the refund process, the FTC noted that emails regarding claims would originate from the [email protected] email address.
In a separate settlement, Epic Games also agreed to pay a $275 million penalty related to allegations of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. When combined with the earlier settlement, this results in a total of $520 million in penalties imposed on the developer.