Montreal law firm wants to launch a class action lawsuit against Fortnite for being addictive to minors

    
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Montreal law firm Calex Légal has officially filed a request to launch a class action lawsuit against Epic Games and its Canadian subsidiary for effectively making Fortnite an addictive game to young people without providing suitable warnings. The request was filed this past Thursday on behalf of the parents of two minors, aged 10 and 15

Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal, argues that Fortnite was engineered by Epic Games to make young people dependent on the game, likening playing it to using cocaine. “Epic Games, when they created Fortnite, for years and years, hired psychologists — they really dug into the human brain and they really made the effort to make it as addictive as possible,” reasons Chartrand. “They knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth.”

The grounds for this class action suit are built on the interpretation of a 2015 Quebec Superior Court ruling that determined tobacco companies did not provide ample warning to consumers about the dangers of smoking. According to Chartrand, Epic Games’ duty to inform follows the same legal basis.

There is a section in Fortnite’s terms of service that includes a waiver for going to court individually or as part of a class action, but Chartrand argues that those terms don’t stand up in Quebec because the province’s Consumer Protection Act requires companies to disclose risks involved with using their products or services.

At the time of this writing, there is no date on when a judge will rule on the class action request.

source: CBC, thanks to David and Scott for the tip!
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oruh
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oruh

Son, if you don’t get off the computer I will sue the company that made that game.

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Lord Klaus

As usual, the REAL problem is not the game or the company that made it. The REAL problem as stupid parents leaving their minors to play too much. These kind of actions against games are ridiculous and as always I hope they fail. Idiots.

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Mewmew

Note to Canadian Law Firm: Games are made to be fun and for people to want to play them. I don’t think you can sue because of that.

This reminds me of when I saw people wanting to sue McDonald’s because they said they made their food taste too good (seriously).

The only ones that make money in Class Action Lawsuits are the lawyers, but I guess that works for them. But wait, they’re just doing this because they somehow think it’s the right thing to do, not because they are greedy and want some of that sweet Fortnite money.

“Games aren’t supposed to be that fun. They should be just fun enough where you play for a few minutes and then go outside.”

I personally don’t enjoy Fortnite that much. It’s all about the kind of game you like. Fortnite is just the popular PvP one right now. There is always a top PvP dog that has the most players at the time. PvP games concentrate the population a bit more than PvE games which have the population spread out more.

Fortnite didn’t do it on its own just based on the merits of the game. Numerous things converged for the timing of the release that helped. People were ready for a new PvP game. It became popular through media and streaming and things as well and got mentioned on highly viewed TV shows. It rose up at a time with a huge rise in Twitch viewership. Popular streamers got in on it and it was interesting to watch even if you weren’t much of a player. You could see true skill come out in gaming by watching them play this.

The most popular young gaming icons arising were playing Fortnite and helped make the kids watching them want to play it. Gamers like Ninja were becoming real celebrities because of things like playing Fortnite and how skilled he was at it. Fortnite promoted their careers, they promoted Fortnite, all in all it was good for gaming and eSports and they all gathered to promote it as well. It wasn’t just Fortnite on its own.

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Robert Mann

Wait, people sued McDonald’s for that? *Scratches head in confusion.* Okay then…

Anyway, yep, agreed that the object of a game is fun. Where I wouldn’t consider Fortnite fun, many do. It’s all a matter of taste. Except for those thinking McD’s is that great, they need to try real food. XD (I kid, McD lovers. A little. Kinda. But seriously, it’s not that good.)

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John Kiser

I mean their quarter-pounder linme since they used fresh beef when it is seasoned well is a really solid burger and I say that as someone that can cook circles around most places. The trcik there is making sure it is cooked well and seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper but it tastes much much better than their standard fair.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, it’s decent. Nothing all that great, just decent. Going beyond decent/solid though… *This counting for the fresh beef version and the lower salt they did a while back.*

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Schmidt.Capela

This reminds me of when I saw people wanting to sue McDonald’s because they said they made their food taste too good (seriously).

The one serious lawsuit against McDonalds that fits this model was when McDonalds was sued because eating too much McDonalds food caused obesity. And while the lawsuit got nowhere — the parties agreed to dismiss it with prejudice before it got to a trial —, AFAIK it did result in changes to McDonalds, as the fast food chain decided to have lower calorie options available in their menu in part to make future lawsuits in the same mold even less likely to succeed.

Keep in mind that this was in the US, which has perhaps the weakest consumer protection laws across all developed nations, though. In countries with stronger consumer protection this kind of lawsuit is far more likely to succeed.

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John Kiser

It should never succeed anywhere. If you can’t freaking eat right that is on you. If you eat bad food constantly (I know people that order mcdonalds daily or go out to eat at diff places that aren’t good for them in general daily) you are going to get fat and then obese. This is not an unknown to anyone with a half functioning brain and should never win in any country with any amount of sanity.

The fact of the matter is that if you eat a burger at home daily that is fixed up the same way you too will get fat and then obese. People do not eat well and then wonder “why did i become fat”. That lawsuit didn’t get anywhere because the people in question largely were eating at mcdonalds far too frequently. Fast food isn’t meant to replace meals daily. It is meant to be a once in awhile thing If you are going there daily that is on you if you get fat/obese.

Don’t have time for a home cooked meal? Cook on a weekend day for the week and at least make a few dinners for the week to have something home cooked and freeze it.

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Robert Mann

At this point, I’m not so sure about that “Nowehere would go anywhere with this” part.

That said, I would not be surprised to see some of the most egregious behaviors with protection become a matter of something beyond just internet squabbles at this point. Whether on the dictatorial end, or on the attempt to censor other nation’s citizenry.

Also, that would require the 84-92% (estimated) of the population in ‘modern first world’ nations that have no clue how to cook to… learn to cook. Which is likely a no-go.

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Frank White

Well, while of course parents do also have some responsibility for what their kids eat, not everyone can afford to buy all the healthier, less addictive foods. Most everything on regular supermarket shelves is packed with sugars and fats engineered to keep you eating and make you unhealthy. See here for example: https://www.ecowatch.com/food-companies-making-products-addictive-2632845184.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

I guess the argument here is that Fortnite has been engineered from the bottom up, with the help of mental health professionals, to be just as addictive, and ultimately unhealthy, as all those unhealthy foods. It’s an argument that’s maybe not totally without merit, but I agree it would be a very bad precedent if it were ever to go to court and Epic lost. From then on every gaming company would have to worry about their games being too successful (regardless of whatever gambling mechanics that might have in their games); but on the other hand, if they could stave off lawsuits by simply putting a “this game might be addictive” warning on their games, it might, ironically, help them sell even MORE games. ;)

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Arktouros

This topic always is an endless source of amusement.

Gamers: Gaming addiction is total nonsense. I mean it’s just a game. There’s nothing addictive about randomly rewarding randomized loot through in game encounters and mechanics. This is just people looking for a pay day from a well to do company. It would be huge overreach for government to regulate video games as harmful and they should spend their time on more serious issues.

Also Gamers: Loot Boxes are entirely predatory. They hire marketing analysts backed by crack psychologists who engineered the most addictive product imaginable. The only way they sell is by preying upon the weakest in our society the children and the mentally ill who have vulnerabilities to gambling. They should be regulated and restricted why won’t the government do something to protect us from these unscrupulously greedy companies.

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Eamil

Because the way those two things play out and the effects they have on a person are completely the same. Yup.

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Arktouros

How about instead of selling loot boxes game companies started selling micro dungeons. You valiantly fight your way through the dungeon until the very end there’s a boss that when you defeat it has a chance to drop a myriad of cosmetic options.

Oh wait, I just described loot boxes again with extra steps. Did you get a sense of pride and accomplishment because you defeated some AI enemies for your RNG gamble reward off the boss?

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Eamil

If I have to pay again every time I run that dungeon, that’s equally bullshit, yes. People also hate one-time passes like that, even for actual content and not the kind of thinly veiled loot box you describe. You seem to have expected me to not feel that way and preemptively declared victory based on that assumption.

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Arktouros

My argument was not presupposed on what you would like or dislike but rather the example existed to show that the line between what is a loot box and what is an acceptable game mechanic is pretty blurry.

Both systems are designed to get you to repeat their process until you get your desired outcome. The principle behind them is the same. What differs is the cost of each, and by giving them similar costs it shows them, as you say, to be a “thinly veiled” version of one another.

That’s important because if the principle behind them is the same, it means all the same claims people make towards loot boxes being psychologically manipulative or addictive and pose a threat that can equally be held true for similar things such as the games that rely in similar systems.

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Zandohaha .

Whether or not you think it’s bullshit is irrelevant.

The discussion is about these constant calls for government intervention and regulation because “think of the children”. Nobody is interested in calling for regulation of addictive games. However they are VERY concerned the second that any sort of money becomes involved.

You say above
“Because the way those two things play out and the effects they have on a person are completely the same. Yup.”

No, they aren’t the same. Kids staying up way too long, not focusing at school, losing their social life all because they are playing games too much is far WORSE than them spending too much money on a credit card they should not have access to.

Its incredibly transparent what people’s agenda is. They call for regulation on loot boxes because they don’t like to pay for things and want them gone. When it comes to similar “think of the children” arguments because their video games are too much fun, well they aren’t nearly as interested in backing up that argument.

Also nobody is pressing any sort of calls for “gambling addiction” regulation over loot based games. Even though they surely have the same sort of reward cycles. No, apprently a real money purchase is absolutely required before it has any chance of becoming some sort of “problematic gambling”.

Truth is people just don’t like to pay for things and actually don’t give a shit about others like they claim.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

Those ‘extra steps’ can actually change the scope of lootboxes as it relates to gambling. In the US, most states have a clause about gambling that the game has to have a certain degree of chance involved. By putting a dungeon between the purchase and the reward, the reward arguably then becomes more dependent on skill (because you have to have a skill here to reach the file boss) than it does on pure chance.

Again, this line is fuzzily defined, but the situation that outlined, while detestable from a monetization strategy, is in a much more legally gray area as gambling.

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Arktouros

Ah but now we’re just haggling over criteria.

For example how skillful does an encounter need to be? If I sell a dungeon with level 1 encounters that any max level character would waltz through would that fit the definition of skillful? What about an equal level area but tuned to be so easy that anyone can beat it?

Oh and then there’s the human component. How long do you think it would be before the player base starts asking for just a box they can open instead of having to go through some token dungeon? LOL…you know that’s what’s going to happen hahaha…

The point stands that they’re more similar than dissimilar.

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Andy McAdams

Ahh yes! A circle is just a square with a very small change to the corners. They are more similar than they are dissimilar. They are over 90% the same shape!

So really, a circle is just a square by another name.

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Arktouros

Really it would be more of a square is a circle by another name because it had extra bits tacked onto it. However fundamentally at it’s core, it’s still the same circle.

:)

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Utakata

Playing games obsessively, is not the same as someone with gambling issues. Neither of these should conflated. Nor do they appear to be addictions in the true sense of that word. That is, World of Warcraft and slot machines don’t make people physically high in the example. Nor are they have physical with drawl symptoms when they are stopped.

This world has done a terrible disservices in naming them as such, IMO. And in doing so, avoid dealing with the issues on a psychological and individual basis where it really should be addressed. Blaming companies for other peoples’ behaviors is never going to help.

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rosieposie

It’s not the government going after Fortnite. Did you even read the article before going on one of your rehearsed and predictable tirades?

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Arktouros

Nor did I say the government was going after Fortnite. What I said:

“It would be huge overreach for government to regulate video games as harmful and they should spend their time on more serious issues.”

Right now video games don’t disclose any risks involved in playing them because they don’t view there are any risks in playing their game. This case is brought forward by parents who are trying to make the case there are risks by playing the game, specifically that it’s potentially addictive. Which in Quebec, where the lawsuit is happening, Epic Games would have to disclose those potential risks because the Government regulation would force them to do so.

So my statement that people don’t think video games are harmful, or at the very least potentially harmful, and therefore shouldn’t be regulated (such as under the Quebec regulation) is a fairly accurate assessment of many of the comments here.

Maybe before you go around bandying claims of not reading articles you should maybe brush up on your own reading comprehension :)

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Andy McAdams

Your argument is flawed here because you assume a zero-sum outcome. Granted, it’s much easier to make an argument is hyperbolic extremes, but you know as well as I do that your characterization of gamers here traverses well into the realm of caricature.

A more accurate representation of Gaming Addiction argument is that a game is no more or less addictive than any other competitive activity. It’s not that people can’t become addicted to a game, just that that addiction doesn’t deserve its own classification as its just a different expression of the same underlying problem with the emotional addiction (as there is no chemical addiction here).

Lootboxes are predatory and are designed to generate more revenue than it just sold people what they wanted to begin with. There are dramatically diminishing returns for the consumer and while the company generates magnitudes greater revenue. No one has ever said, “Wow, I’m glad I spent 10x more than I needed to and got 4 bags filled with basically useless stuff to get the weapon skin!”

How many games have the rare items found in lockboxes sold independently? Almost none because if you provide people the option to buy the thing they want without ‘rolling the dice’ those super fun surprise mechanics go right out the window.

It’s also disingenuous to say things “the only way they sell…” because you know that’s bullshit too. Many people buy lootboxes without being children or gambling addicts, but predatory tactics is what make lootboxes so wildly profitable.

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Arktouros

It’s a characterization up until a point.

You say that games are no more or less addictive than any other competitive activity, however this is false due to one critical difference. The rules and methods that define a win condition are incredibly different. In Tennis you play the game to the best of your ability and you either score more points and win or you don’t and you lose.

However the win condition for most RPG style games is not so easily defined. For example I could have an encounter with an AI boss in which it challenges me to defeat it and if it’s HP reaches 0 then I “win.” This is where the critical difference comes in, I am not defeating the boss because I wished to challenge myself, I was there doing that for the loot that boss could drop. Until I get the drop I want, I have not won. As you said, no one has farmed a boss for loot and said “Wow, I’m glad I spent 10x more time than I needed to and got 4 bags filled with basically useless stuff to get the item I wanted!”

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kjempff

Kyle’s mom called, she think you are being overprotective.
But, on a serious note. Yes they(Fortnite) are one of the best/worst at taking advantage of all the psychological tricks in the book. But where is the limit then? All modern games do this to some degree.

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Randy Savage

Fuck Fortnite, but literally anything that stimulates a response in the brain’s reward center can become addictive.

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Alberto

Oh Look another Frivolous lawsuit…..BARF…..

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Godnaz

It’s against our moral compass to create a hostile and enforcing environment toward our children for an addiction they have no control over and we as the parents, cannot regulate. We have asked the government to step in to provide legal limitations for the brightest children in the world, the Canadien français. Unfortunately they felt we needed to take responsibility for our own parenting needs so we have sought legal advise and protection. /s

Quit blaming the system. If you cannot lay down the rules of your own household, you should not be having children.

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Eamil

Yup. I just can’t even with this nonsense.

kjempff
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kjempff

What is this nonsense about “can’t regulate”? That is exactly what you can and should do as parent.

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Robert Mann

Basically. “We were dumb and let our children do whatever, and now we don’t like it. Let’s file a lawsuit!”

Stupid is, as stupid does. Stupid, in this case, being the parents who think their job is to be the coddling enabler of little monsters.

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John Kiser

Parents have stopped wanting to actually parent. You tell someone that it is bad parenting to let your kid eat whatever they want and suddenly you are some kind of fascist or soap boxing and that is where this shit starts in the first place. You didn’t lay down any sort of rules and boundaries when they were young, you kept giving into then as they grew up even getting them M rated games before they were in their teens, you just buy them shit to placate them, and then you sit them in front of a TV or a computer all day because you are afraid that if you let them go outside there will be some sort of mass abduction of them or some shit and you wonder why the kids just sit there gaming and shit daily and you wonder why you cannot actually lay down rules that will be followed?

Welp guess what Becky? It is because you didn’t impose any rules, boundaries, or limits at all on the child from a very early age and you refuse to actually parent. Either parent and this stuff fixes itself or don’t and go away is my thought on this. I will never understand why people think they need to pull BS lawsuits instead of actually doing what they are supposed to.

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Kurt Shadle

If they’re trying to sue addictive things, they should try sueing O2. Now that stuff is addictive. I’ve been hooked for over 3o years and I don’t think I can live without it.

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Chosenxeno .

It’s amazing how no one was complaining when sitting on your ass watching Braindead Sitcoms was the standard.