Two parents in Canada recently filed a lawsuit against Fortnite creator Epic Games, stating that the battle royale title is as addictive and dangerous as cocaine, and that it should pay a fine for marketing to children. According to USA Today, the lawsuit claims that Fortnite was developed by psychologists and statisticians to be as addictive as possible by triggering dopamine in a player’s brain so that Epic could benefit from more profits.
The lawsuit is written in French, but a translation courtesy of USA Today reveals that the claims compare the third-person shooter game to an addictive casino. “The defendants used the same tactics as the creators of slot machines, or variable reward programs, [to ensure] the dependence of its users, [and] the brain being manipulated to always want more,” it states. “Children are particularly vulnerable to this manipulation since their self-control system in the brain is not developed enough.”
Fortnite is free to play, however many players opt in to spend real money on loot boxes during gameplay. This lawsuit’s claim isn’t entirely out of bounds, as loot boxes within Fortnite and other similar games including PUBG are considered gambling by many. As a result of this stance, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo recently agreed to disclose the odds of obtaining rare in-game items from loot boxes. In addition, the World Health Organization officially classified “gaming disorder” as a diagnosable condition last year due to the addictive nature of many similar games.
The current lawsuit aims to get Fortnite to disclose how addictive it is to all users. In response, an Epic spokesperson has stated that the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
Elsewhere in gaming, we recapped five key learnings from this year’s New York Comic Con.