San Jose, CA — A group of parents have sued the makers of the popular video game Fortnite for $42 million, claiming it “caused undue psychological and physical harm” to their families. For the past two years, the parents of Fortnite players have met in the private Facebook group “Fortnite Deprogramming” to commiserate and talk about how to wean their children from what they call “more addicting than opiates,” claims the lawsuit.
Fortnite is an online video game developed by Epic Games and released in 2017. It is available in several game mode versions that otherwise share the same general gameplay and game engine, including Fortnite: Save the World, a cooperative hybrid-tower defense-shooter-survival game for up to four players to fight off zombie-like creatures and defend objects with traps and fortifications they can build; and the most popular, and damaging according to the lawsuit, Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-to-play battle royale game in which up to 100 players fight to be the last person standing.
Although Fortnite Battle Royale is free, it often prompts children to purchase add-ons such as new weapons and skins. The latter are virtual clothing and outfits. These add-ons can sometimes cost $20.00 or more, and children are often offered them several times a week.
“At first, we thought it was just a harmless online game for the boys,” said Cupertino, father of 3 Kenton Fuller (38), a software developer for the Oracle Corporation. “However, it became clear that it was more like a drug addiction aimed at children. We thought we might use it as a reward for the kids’ online learning. $5 of V-Bucks here, $5 there, you know? But it quickly got out of control, and two of our boys were caught selling stolen housewares on eBay to make money for V-Bucks.”
Fortnite V-Bucks are the Battle Royale’s in-game currency, which players can use to purchase Battle Passes, emotes, cosmetics, gliders, and other loot in Fortnite’s Battle Royale, Creative, and Save the World modes. While V-Bucks can be bought with real-world money, there’s also plenty of ways to pick some up for free, including stealing from neighbor’s garages.
It’s unclear how the parent group arrived at the $42 million number. The class now involves 420 parents who seek relief from the game’s publisher.
Epic Games has not responded to the lawsuit, nor does it comment on any pending litigation, as per a memo released by the company.
Other parent groups have been critical of the legal action, claiming parents just need to take “the god damned computers away” to remedy bad behavior.