Epic Games being sued over claims Fortnite is made to be as addictive as possible
Fortnite is big business, in 2018 alone it is said to have made US $2.4 billion in revenue. A new lawsuit in Canada however claims its business practices mirror that of gambling and addiction.
If you’ve ever played Fortnite, that colossal revenue estimation may be a headscratcher, after all Fortnite is totally free. It does however fall into the colloquial camp of a ‘freemium’ game, a game which is free but has additional premium services you have to pay for. It is these services a family in Quebec is claiming is scientifically engineered to be as addictive as possible.
The legal action alleges that Fortnite is developed in part by psychologists, statiticians and other professionals over years to engineer Fornite’s premium services to be as addictive as can be. It is said players are led towards paying money to get releases of dopamine, the brain’s pleasure hormone.
“The defendants used the same tactics as the creators of slot machines, or variable reward programs, (to ensure) the dependence of its users, (and) the brain being manipulated to always want more,” the suit alleges in a rough translation. “Children are particularly vulnerable to this manipulation since their self-control system in the brain is not developed enough.” The suit was originally in French but translated partially by USA Today.
Fortnite’s money comes from shortcuts to obtain the in-game currency called ‘V-Bucks’. These V-Bucks can be used to purchase snazzier weapons, skins, dances and many more things to set your Fortnite avatar apart from the crowd.
Scepticism towards the adverse effects of video-gaming has increased over the years, with the World Health Organisation this year recognising video game addiction as a serious illness. At the most severe end of the spectrum, it is said some of the two billion gamers worldwide spend more than 20 hours a day gaming.
Fortnite has come under legal fire several times in the past, with a similar lawsuit this year claiming its ‘loot box’ purchase system as ‘predatory’. Along with another case this year urging Fortnite to introduce more parental controls so parents can see the in-game purchases their kids make.
Epic Games has 30 days to respond.