A legal firm in Montreal is looking into suing Epic Games for Fortnite: Battle Royale’s apparently addictive qualities, even comparing the game to cocaine at one point in its 38-page request.
According to a CBC report, Calex Légal is representing the parents of two minors, a 10-year-old and 15-year-old, who claim their children have become dependent on playing the battle royale game. The basis of the lawsuit is the 2015 Quebec Supreme Court ruling on cigarettes that claimed tobacco companies didn’t adequately convey that their products could be addictive to people buying them.
Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, a Calex Légal attorney, said she believes Epic sought to make Fortnite as addictive as possible, and the game’s appeal to a younger generation of players meant that children were being hooked to the point where it became a detriment to a healthy lifestyle.
“In our case, the two parents that came forward and told, ‘If we knew it was so addictive it would ruin our child’s life, we would never have let them start playing Fortnite or we would have monitored it a lot more closely,'” Chartrand told CBC.
When speaking to CBC, Chartrand cited Epic’s consulting and working with psychologists in order to make Fortnite as addictive as possible. Celia Hoden, the former directer of user experience at Epic, broke down how the game’s success is rooted in psychology, a subject on which she holds a PhD. Hoden’s analysis and work on the game centered around the ease of use, clarity, and how to quickly someone can go from one match to another. While these are quality of life issues all games, products, and services typically try to account for, with something free-to-play, easily accessible on mobile devices, and as widely played as Fortnite, it can lead to addictive behavior.
“The idea is to ensure that the game is going to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible, just like industrial designers think of how we can make it easier for people to open a bottle of water, unscrew a beer without any tool, or buy an airplane ticket online,” Hoden said in her breakdown. “We work to remove all the frustrations players might have that are not by design, such as difficulty navigating menus, unintuitive icons, or confusing systems.”
As of this writing, Chartrand couldn’t disclose the amount of money the firm would be seeking or when a judge would be making a ruling on the request.
Across seven platforms, mobile, console, and computer, Fortnite: Battle Royale has amassed a player base of 250 million users as of 2019. Since its launch two years ago, the game’s success has sparked major promotional crossovers, social hubs, and a thriving competitive scene.