On Monday, December 19, 2022, the FTC announced that Epic Games will pay a $520 million fine in order to settle allegations of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and collecting children’s personal data without obtaining consent from the parent or guardian.
Epic acknowledged the settlement in a statement, saying in part:
“No developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here. The video game industry is a place of fast-moving innovation, where player expectations are high and new ideas are paramount. Statutes written decades ago don’t specify how gaming ecosystems should operate. The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved and long-standing industry practices are no longer enough. We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”
Epic even mentions that “Developers who create a teen-rated or mature-rated game can no longer assume that it won’t be deemed to be directed to children.” Teen rated and mature rated games cover an extremely wide breadth of games and game companies.
After such a fine, it looks like Epic may take the reins in changing the landscape of how game companies handle data. Will others eventually mimic their new policies? What about other games that are not battle royale types?