Taps for Fortnite could impact other games


This article was last updated on May 15, 2024

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Taps for Fortnite could impact other games

Can more game makers expect fines for misleading advertisements after the sanction for Fortnite maker Epic Games? Or will game makers adapt their games themselves? These are questions that arise now that the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined the developer of the extremely popular Fortnite 1.1 million euros. has imposed. The game’s penalized sales methods are also used by other games.

It is unique that a game maker is confronted about advertisements. The fine could also have consequences for other developers, thinks Rami Ismail, board member of the trade organization Dutch Games Association. He is happy with the ACM’s ruling. “I like that there is a clear line. Everyone knows what they get out of it now.”

“The amount of the fine really doesn’t matter to Fortnite, but they have to adjust it. Otherwise, more fines will follow,” says game journalist Simoon Hermus of de Volkskrant. “You can see that they are affected by it.”

Maker Epic Games says it is taking measures, but will appeal against the decision. According to the producer, young people under the age of 16 are better protected – provided they honestly indicate their age. According to Epic, they can only make purchases if parents give permission.

What is Fortnite? In Fortnite, players can play different games. The game is still popular seven years after launch and has hundreds of millions of users worldwide. The most popular part is Battle Royale. One hundred players then compete with each other to be the only one left. A new season starts approximately every 10 weeks at Fortnite. Then there is a new theme and the locations in the game are also adjusted. Now the game is all about myths until the end of May.

Fortnite is free to download, but users can make in-game purchases. They do this in the Fortnite online store, where new outfits and equipment are for sale. The game has its own currency called V-Bucks. Players can earn these by achieving victories, but they can also be purchased. 1000 V-Bucks are equivalent to approximately 9 euros.

The fine that the ACM has now imposed was imposed because of the timers that the game has on products. They count down until a product is no longer available, but according to the regulator’s research it appears that some products were still for sale even after the timer expired. That is misleading, according to the ACM.

Another reason for the sanction is the texts that accompany the items, such as ‘Get it now’ or ‘Buy now’. That is also not allowed, because Fortnite is aimed at children and then these types of texts fall under ‘aggressive commercial practices’. “Children want to belong and talk about it on the schoolyard that they have something very rare. These kinds of pitfalls are being played upon and that is serious,” says Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh of the ACM.

A representative sample from research agency Motivaction in 2021 showed that children spent between 12 and 50 euros on Fortnite that year. “These are significant amounts,” says Hijmans van den Bergh.

Roblox in the crosshairs

Imposing time pressure also happens in other free games. “It’s a fairly well-known model and has been used in the gaming industry for some time,” says Ismail. “The Netherlands is quite progressive in this area. It is a statement that will also have a broad influence.”

One of those other free games is Roblox. That game also has its own ‘currency’ (Robux) and millions of users. “I think Roblox is in our sights,” says Hermus. “There are many brands that advertise in Roblox. Those companies normally have to deal with super strict rules on television, but when you see what they do on Roblox, that would never be possible on TV.”

I hope this is a strong signal to the entire sector.

Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh

According to the ACM, Fortnite’s business practices damage confidence in the digital economy. “I hope this is a strong signal to the entire sector,” says Hijmans van den Bergh.

Epic Games has now made changes to the game. Instead of a countdown clock, the date on which a product was last available is now shown. And while the appeal is being processed, it is not possible for players under the age of 18 to purchase products that are available for less than 48 hours.

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