Fortnite Being Sued For Designing Game To Be "As Addictive As Possible”

By Victoria Kim 10/10/19

Fortnite has previously been blamed for breaking up marriages and distracting students from schoolwork.

Image: 
boy playing Fortnite

The developer of the hugely popular online video game, Fortnite, is accused of designing the game to be “as addictive as possible,” with no effort to warn players of the addictive risk.

Fortnite is free to download, but revenue is earned through in-game purchases such as outfits and “emotes” to customize a player’s virtual character. The game boasts nearly 250 million registered players around the world, its creator Epic Games revealed in March.

Possible Class Action Lawsuit

Now, a Montreal-based firm is seeking to file a class action lawsuit against Epic Games for not warning players that they may become hooked.

The CBC reported on October 4 that the law firm, Calex Légal, filed a legal notice seeking authorization to launch the class action lawsuit, on behalf of parents of a 10- and 15-year-old.

By playing Fortnite, players agree to waive their right to sue the company and must instead resolve any dispute in arbitration, according to the game’s terms of service. However, a Calex Légal attorney said that this “agreement” does not apply in Quebec, where companies are required by law to disclose any potential consumer risk associated with any product or service.

Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, who is representing the plaintiffs, said that Epic Games not only designed the game to be “as addictive as possible,” the company also failed to warn players of the addictive risk.

Lawyer Says There Was No Warning Of Game's "Addiction Risks"

“Epic Games, when they created Fortnite, for years and years, hired psychologists—they really dug into the human brain and they really made the effort to make it as addictive as possible,” said Chartrand. “They knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth.”

They allege that the game triggers the release of “the pleasure hormone, dopamine” when played for a long period. 

Epic Games failed to inform players of this risk, which is the company’s responsibility, the lawsuit argues.

“In our case, the two parents that came forward and told, ‘If we knew it was so addictive [and] it would ruin our child’s life, we would never have let them start playing Fortnite or we would have monitored it a lot more closely,” Chartrand said.

Waiting For Epic Games' Response

Epic Games has 30 days to respond to the legal action.

The company is also involved in a federal case brought to the northern district of California in June, that alleges in part that Fortnite does not provide adequate “parental controls that would allow parents or guardians of minors to make informed decisions regarding in-app purchases.”

According to Bloomberg, parents “have lost substantial amounts of money” from not being vigilant about their children making in-app purchases using their payment information.

Last year, the World Health Organization classified “gaming disorder” as a diagnosable condition. Fortnite has been blamed for breaking up marriages and distracting students from schoolwork. Some young people are being sent away to receive help for their excessive playing.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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