Epic Games, manufacturer of the hugely popular Fortnite video game series, has been sued by a group of Canadian parents who claim that the company intentionally developed Fortnite to be highly addictive and their children became so severely dependent on the game that they stopped eating, sleeping, and bathing.
Canadian Superior Court Justice Sylvain Lussier has authorized the class action lawsuit to move forward, writing that the lawsuit “does not appear frivolous or manifestly ill-founded” and that there is “a serious issue to be argued, supported by sufficient and specific allegations to the risks or even dangers arising from the use of Fortnite.” The court referenced the World Health Organization’s recognition of video game addiction as a disease in 2018.
Justice Lussier disagreed with the parent’s allegations that Epic had intentionally made the games addictive. However, he did recognize the possibility that the game is, in fact, addictive and that Epic is aware of that fact.
One parent reported that her child had played the game 6,923 times, and other parents said their child played 7,700 times over two years for at least three hours each day. One of the children in the lawsuit is alleged to have received a medical diagnosis of addiction.
Epic has characterized the lawsuit as “meritless.” It claims that the game has parental controls that allow parents to control their child’s interaction with the game, including requiring parental permission for a child to make in-game purchases. While the game is free to play, players can purchase in-game money called ‘V Bucks” to buy gear, upgrades, and other in-game materials.