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The company behind ‘Fortnite’ told UK lawmakers that the game isn’t addictive, after Prince Harry said it was ‘irresponsible’ and should be banned

Fortnite Bunker Jonesy"Fortnite"/Epic Games

  • Epic Games defended the business model of its hit game "Fortnite" during a hearing with UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
  • "Fortnite" is a free-to-play game with more than 250 million registered players, and that earned an estimates $2.4 billion-plus through microtransactions in 2018.
  • Committee members questioned whether "Fortnite" has proper restrictions in place to keep players, and more specifically children, from spending too much time or money on the game.
  • Representatives from Epic Games said they don't believe the game is addictive — refuting statements made by Prince Harry in April, who called the game "irresponsible."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The company behind "Fortnite" told the British Parliament that it doesn't believe the game is addictive, while defending the hit game's business model and data collection policies.

Representatives for Epic Games appeared before Pariliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee on June 19 as a part of the committee's investigation into addictive technology. The committe also invited representives from Electronic Arts, the publishers of "FIFA," "Madden NFL," "The Sims," and "Star Wars: Battlefront II."

"Fortnite" is the most popular video game in the world with more than 250 million players. Though the game is free-to-play, Epic Games reportedly earned more than $2.4 billion from microtransactions during 2018.

Many of those transactions come from children who buy cosmetic items in the game to customize their character's appearance. Even if you're not spending money, you can play "Fortnite" as long as you want, and the game offers free weekly challenges and other incentives to keep players engaged.

The game's popularity has sparked debate about whether its microtransactions are predatory on both kids and adults, and whether its business model manipulates players into spending more time playing.

In April, Prince Harry said "Fortnite" is "irresponsible" and that parents shouldn't allow it in their homes.

Simon Dawson / Getty

Speaking during a mental health conference in April, Prince Harry called "Fortnite" irresponsible and said the game was designed to keep players "in front of the computer for as long as possible." Prince Harry went on to criticize the impact that both social media and video games have on children, claiming that social media was more addictive than alcohol or drugs.

"Fortnite" doesn't ask players for their age, though it's rated for players 12 and up in Europe.

"Fortnite"/Epic Games

During the June 19 hearing, DCMS Committee members specifically questioned whether Epic Games monitors the amount of time and money players spend on "Fortnite," and whether the game verifies the age of its players.

Matthew Weissinger, Epic's director of marketing, told the committee that the game does not directly monitor the age of its players, and there is no specific age requirement to play. Epic's privacy policy says its games are not intended for children under the age of 13, and in Europe the game is rated for players age 12 and up. In the United States, "Fortnite" is rated T for teens.

However, Epic does not implement measures to prevent or ban children from playing "Fortnite" if they manage to access the game on their own. Weissinger specified that the game does have parental controls, which allow parents to implement mature language filters and limit access to social features like voice and text chat, or friend requests for their children.

DCMS Committee members repeatedly asked if "Fortnite" warns players after excessive playtime or spending.

Epic Games

Committee chair Damian Collins asked whether "Fortnite" has warnings telling players to take a break after extended playtime or spending in the shop, referencing recent reports of a 6-year-old boy in Britian who spent more than $2,000 on "Fortnite" items in a single day using his uncle's PlayStation Network account. According to the Daily Mail, the boy made 15 purchases in a single day.

While Weissinger admitted that he wasn't familiar with the report, he said the total amount seemed beyond the normal bounds of what a "Fortnite" player could spend in a day. He said that players could spend a maximum of about $200 on items during a given day, but that doesn't include buying V-bucks, the game's premium currency, themselves.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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