Epic Games should play fair for all children

Epic Games has been fined by the Dutch authorities for unfair pressure selling to children in its Fortnite game, they've changed their game in the Netherlands but why not in other countries?

Gaming means the world to many children – it’s a fun, social and important part of their lives.  But to keep it fun we need to be sure it’s safe and fair especially for the youngest players. A recent Euroconsumers report on gaming showed that 80% of 11–14-year-olds regularly played video games, and Fortnite is one of the most popular.

This week, the Dutch Consumers and Markets Authority (ACM) fined game developer Epic Games International for unfair commercial practices which target children in its Fortnite game.

Making good use of the EU legislative toolbox, the Dutch Authority investigated how in-game purchases like skins for characters were presented to children. They found that Epic Games was pressurising children to buy add-ons with fake countdown timers that suggested there were time limits on the sale of times, and by using phrases like ‘buy now’ or ‘get it now’.

These types of aggressive commercial practices are explicitly prohibited, Epic Games has been fined more than one million euros. As well as the fine, ACM requires Epic Games to put an end to the practices that create pressure and uncertainty for young consumers in the shop. 

However, rather than removing the harmful techniques altogether, Epic Games has decided to stop offering these items to children on the Dutch market.

Great news for Dutch children, but the rules on misleading advertising and aggressive commercial practices are European and therefore the same in all EU countries – now Epic Games has been brought to task, we want it to stop this practice in our Euroconsumers countries as well.

Epic Games and other consumer authorities – be bold.  Let’s improve the market for players, no matter how young they are so they can be empowered for a game changing future.

Rewatch our April 2024 webinar on gaming featuring European Games Developer Federation, Milberg London LLP, Games Investor Consulting, Tilburg University: My Gaming Device is Mine: Is Big Gaming letting us play? | Euroconsumers