Epic Games have been issued a class action lawsuit, alleging Fortnite is too addictive.
The news comes via CBC, stating that Calex Légal are representing parents of two minors (aged 10 and 15). The authorization request was filed in Montreal court on October 3rd.
The suit reportedly “likens the effect of the game to cocaine, saying it releases the chemical dopamine to the brain of vulnerable young people who can become dependent on playing.”
Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal stated “We dug into it and we realized there was a strong case for it.” Chartrand has also requested other other concerned parents to come forward.
The suit itself is based on a ruling in 2015 from the Quebec Superior Court. The case determined tobacco companies did not warn their customers about the dangers of smoking. Chartrand claims that “It’s basically the same legal basis. It’s very centered on the duty to inform.”
Chartrand also claims that Epic Games conducted “extensive” research and development to create an addictive game. As such, if something is “dangerously addictive”, it is a company’s responsibility to warn customers of the risk.
“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.”
“In our case, the two parents that came forward and told, ‘If we knew it was so addictive 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.’ “
While Epic Games terms of service mean a user must waiver their right to take a class-action lawsuit, Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act regarding companies having to disclose risks with their product or service overrule it.
During our Gaming Disorder Editorial series (1, 2, 3), Chris Ferguson (professor of psychology at Stetson University in Florida) discussed in an article how there are issues when classifying any behavioral addiction as addictive- especially basing the claim purely on dopamine release.
“The same arguments for “gaming disorder” could be made to make anything an “addiction.” Why not “cat addiction?” Given that dopamine release is normal for pleasant activities one could claim that stroking a cat release dopamine “just like cocaine does.”
Many of the symptoms used for gaming addiction such as using the thing to feel better after a bad day can certainly be applied to cats. And we can find anecdotes of people who clearly overdo cats, living in houses full of diseased cats, and persisting in the behavior despite legal consequences. If “gaming disorder” is real, then so is “cat addiction.”
A similar lawsuit was issued against Epic Games in June 2019, alleging that the game was intentionally designed to encourage young players to spend money without judgement, and denying refunds for various reasons.
Fortnite have also been taken to court by Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Donald Faison (Turk in Srubs), and rapper “2 Milly“- all over dance emotes based on their dances.
Epic Games also appeared in UK court as a witness over lootboxes. Representatives attempted to downplay that Fortnite generated profit, albeit after much badgering.