A Canadian law firm is readying a class-action lawsuit against Epic Games that alleges the studio knowingly aimed to make Fortnite an addicting game targeted at kids, and didn’t do enough to warn players and parents of addiction risks.
The premise of the upcoming class-action, according to info shared by the Canadian news outlet CBC News, is based on the same legal basis as a 2015 Quebec superior Court ruling against tobacco companies that found they failed to fully inform customers of the dangers of smoking.
That law firm, Calex Légal, requested authorization to launch the class-action on behalf of the parents of two Fortnite players who say they would have restricted or heavily monitored their children’s playtime if they had known how addicting the game was upfront.
Attorney Alessandra Esposito Chartrand tells CBC that Fortnite developer Epic Games “knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth," and says that the studio worked with psychologists to “really make the effort to make it as addictive as possible.”
The request document also mentions the World Health Organization’s recent addition of video game addiction to its International Compendium of Diseases and argues that Epic Games, like tobacco companies, have a responsibility to inform its customers of this addiction risk.
"It's basically the same legal basis. It's very centered on the duty to inform,” Chartrand tells CBC.
The firm is currently in the process of receiving authorization to launch the class-action, but notes that Quebec is a promising place to launch the lawsuit as the province’s Consumer Protection Act likely counters the provision in Fortnite’s terms of service that prevents players from taking the studio to court.
Outside of a smattering of lawsuits over the origins of the dances used for the game’s emotes, Epic Games has already been hit with a handful of legal complaints from Fortnite players and their families. To name a few, those include a relatively new class-action lawsuit over a security breach discovered earlier this year, and a separate legal complaint from March that alleged the loot box monetization in Fortnite’s Save the World mode exploited children.