A Canadian couple have hired a law firm to sue Epic Games because they claimed that the developers didn’t warn their kids that Fortnite was going to be so addictive. The case is being brought to a Québécois court in Canada, where the firm, Calex Légal, are hoping to get a class action suit going.
According to a report by the CBC, Calex Légal will have to seek the court’s approval to override Epic Games’ no-class action clause in the terms of service for playing Fortnite. However, Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, one of the attorneys representing the family in the case, claims that the terms of service won’t stand up in court because the Consumer Protection Act requires companies to disclose any risks associated with the product.
Essentially that’s what the case is hinging on: Epic failing to disclose how addictive Fortnite could be.
Chartrand told the CBC that they’re using the previous court case against big tobacco as a basis to sue Epic Games, with the CBC explaining to readers…
“Much of the suit is based on a 2015 Quebec Superior Court ruling that determined tobacco companies didn’t warn their customers about the dangers of smoking.
“’It’s basically the same legal basis,’ Chartrand said. ‘It’s very centred on the duty to inform.’
“That multi-billion-dollar tobacco lawsuit is still playing out in court as the three implicated companies look to secure creditor protection.”
The case might seem completely stupid from the outset, but usually these big companies are brought to heel under consumer protection laws, oftentimes from international legal systems that reside outside of the U.S.
For instance, Valve was forced to add a refund option to Steam due to Australia’s consumer protection body known as the ACCC.
Valve was also later sued, and lost, to a French consumer protection agency that mandated Steam users have the option to resell their digital goods.
Even though this case seems stupid at first appearance, there’s a possibility that the court might side with the parents about Epic not having a label anywhere indicating that Fortnite is addictive.
According to Chartrand, she claims that Epic hired psychologists to make Fortnite as addictive as possible to get kids hooked and keep playing and buying microtransactions…
“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. They knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth.”
While I’m sure they wanted people to keep playing their game and maintaining recurring spend from daily/monthly active users, the initial release of Fortnite as a four-player co-op shooter was not that addictive. In fact, it wasn’t until they reworked the game as a Battle Royale title following the success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds did it finally hit massive success.
Even then, the success for Epic is waning, as the game is seeing significant decrease in annual revenue, with the latest quarterly comparison showing a 52% drop in year-over-year revenue. So even if what Chartrand stated about the game being designed to be addictive turned out to be true, at its current rate it won’t be so addictive for a lot of people for very long.
(Thanks for the news tip Torri)
(Main image courtesy of LJ Studios)