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Epic’s Reaction to Netherlands Fine for Alleged Unfair Commercial Practices Targeting Children in Fortnite

Fortnite developers appeal against fines for unfair commercial practices.

Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite, is appealing the $1.2 million fines imposed by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) for using what the investigative body described as “unfair commercial practices” through the in-game store to “exploit children’s fear of missing out (FOMO).”

Epic Games Responds to the ACM Investigation

In a statement released today, Epic Games suggested the ACM had made “significant factual errors” in its investigation into the battle royale and further noted that the changes would result in a “poor experience for players” in Fortnite.

Peely using Earthbending mythic item in Fortnite.
Fortnite has faced some criticism. Screenshot from ESN.GG.

Changes For Dutch Gamers

While the appeal is underway, the business has already made changes for Dutch gamers. Starting May 24, youngsters under the age of 18 will be unable to “view or purchase things that have been in the shop for less than 48 hours.” This will take effect at the beginning of next season.

ACM’s investigation found two fundamental issues with Fortnite’s item shop, upon which they issued fines. First, the game’s marketing terms—primarily the advertising phrases “Get It Now” or “Buy Now”—combined with timers create a sense of scarcity in digital items that are not genuinely scarce but impact children’s purchasing behavior.

Inaccurate countdown timers

Second, according to ACM, the battle royale’s countdown timers were extremely inaccurate. They discovered that some things would not disappear even after the 24-hour timeframe had expired, but the seemingly ticking countdowns put “pressure” on youngsters to buy or lose the item, resulting in a “dark pattern” in Epic’s purposeful design choice.

Fortnite recently redesigned its item market, deleting all rarities, eliciting conflicting opinions from the community. In addition, the creators removed the 24-hour window rotation from their item shop. Furthermore, they will include distinct rotation times tailored to each player’s time zone to improve transparency about when the item leaves the store.

ACM has given Epic a deadline of June 10, 2024, for the Fortnite devs to “reduce the uncertainty regarding the availability of its offerings in the item shop and increase the decision period for children under the age of 18 years.”

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