Epic Games fined €1.1m for Fortnite in-game advertising in the Netherlands

fortnite key art
Image credit: Epic Games

UPDATED 17/5/24: Epic Games has responded to the fine issued by the ACM and has revealed it plans on appealing the decision. At the time of writing, the appeal is pending.

Game developer Epic Games has been fined €1.1m (~£943,530) after allegedly ‘using unfair commercial practices’ in Fortnite in the Netherlands, according to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

As a result, the independent regulator has imposed the fine alongside a binding instruction to end the violations before June 10th.

ESI Lisbon 2024

According to an investigation undertaken by the ACM, the authority found terminology within Fortnite’s in-game store that exploited the vulnerabilities of children ‘through various design choices’. This included using terminology such as ‘Get it now’ or ‘Buy now’ within the game to make purchases. Due to the terminology used, ACM claims that Epic Games performed ‘an illegal aggressive commercial practice’ resulting in one of two fines (€562,500).

The second fine issued by the ACM (also €562,500) involves the free-to-play battle royale’s countdown timers displayed within the store. Some instances saw items remain in the store when the countdown ended, resulting in the timers potentially being utlised as a method of creating FOMO (fear of missing out).

According to ACM Epic Games violated ‘the requirements of professional diligence’ by failing to consider that children are susceptible to certain commercial practices.

Following the investigation, the ACM has instructed Epic Games to ‘reduce the uncertainty’ of the availability of items within Fortnite’s store alongside extending the purchasing decision length for children under the age of 18. The developer has already removed the countdown timer from the Fortnite store worldwide.

Epic Games isn’t the only esports industry stakeholder to receive fines in 2024. In February, streaming platform Twitch was fined over $300k (~£236,775) after suspending its videos on demand (VOD) service in the country.

Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, shed light on its decision to fine Epic Games: “Businesses that offer products to children have a responsibility to keep in mind that children are particularly sensitive to certain incentives.

“In the popular game Fortnite, children’s vulnerabilities were exploited and were thus pressured into making purchases. With this decision, we are sending a clear signal: children must be able to play online games without being put under undue pressure. These practices by Epic erode confidence in the digital economy.”

Jonno Nicholson
Jonno is a Freelance News Writer for Esports Insider and has been part of the ESI team since 2019! His interests include the rapid rise of sim racing and its impact on the wider industry.