Fortnite class-action lawsuit can proceed, says Canadian court

Fortnite Chapter 4
(Image credit: Epic Games)

A 2019 class-action lawsuit filed against Epic Games for allegedly "knowingly" creating the "very, very addicting" Fortnite has been allowed to proceed.

Although Epic Games had fought for the case to be thrown out, a Canadian court ruled that the parents bringing the case have "valid product liability claims" against Epic and did not consider the claim to be frivolous or manifestly ill-founded".

"The Court is of the opinion that the facts alleged with respect to the plaintiffs' children make it possible to claim, if we put them in relation to the statements of certain experts with respect to the creation of an addiction to video games, and more particularly to Fortnite, that the plaintiffs have a valid product liability claim against the defendants," the ruling stated, as reported by CTV News. "The claim does not appear to be frivolous or manifestly ill-founded."

Three parents from Quebec are suing Epic Games for intentionally designing the battle royale to be "highly addictive" and state that their children, according to CTV, allegedly developed "severe addictions" to the game, which included spending hundreds of dollars in-game, sometimes without parental consent. 

One parent maintains that their son has since been diagnosed with "cyberaddiction", although Epic disputes the legitimacy of the diagnosis and says there was no "expert report on causation". 

"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," attorney Alessandra Esposito Chartrand said back in 2019. "They knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth."

"It is a much, much deeper issue than people will ever really realize. So basically, these games were created with algorithms and dark patterns that are made to addict you. And once the pattern starts, it's very, very, very hard to get out of it," Chartrand added this week.

"There's something about Fortnite that is completely unique. There are no other games that have therapy centres dedicated to players of that game."

"We have industry-leading Parental Controls that empower parents to supervise their child’s digital experience," an Epic spokesperson told PC Gamer. "Parents can receive playtime reports that track the amount of time their child plays each week, and require parental permission before purchases are made, so that they can make the decisions that are right for their family. We have also recently added a daily spending limit by default for players under the age of 13. 

"We plan to fight this in court. This recent decision only allows the case to proceed. We believe the evidence will show that this case is meritless."

Fortnite Chapter 4 is now live. As well as having switched to Unreal Engine 5.1, Fortnite's latest chapter ushers in a "completely new island to explore, different ways to get around, and freshly-forged weapons, as well as a brand-new Battle Pass featuring Geralt of Rivia and Doom Slayer".

If you want to know what else has been updated in the battle royale, check out the Fortnite new weapons including those returning from the vault.

Vikki Blake
Weekend Reporter, GamesRadar+

Vikki Blake is GamesRadar+'s Weekend Reporter. Vikki works tirelessly to ensure that you have something to read on the days of the week beginning with 'S', and can also be found contributing to outlets including the BBC, Eurogamer, and Vikki also runs a weekly games column at NME, and can be frequently found talking about Destiny 2 and Silent Hill on Twitter.