Fortnite is still a hugely popular video game that’s gone well past its free-to-play roots and into mainstream culture. But a new lawsuit claims that the battle royale game is so popular because it’s dangerously addictive.
According to the CBC, some Canadian parents think Fortnite is dangerous for the health of their children and want game maker Epic, which keeps the Fortnite empire up and running, to be held responsible.
According to a Montreal-based law firm, an authorization request was filed in the Quebec city last week to put the lawsuit in motion.
The legal notice, filed on behalf of the parents of two minors, aged 10 and 15, likens the effect of the game to cocaine, saying it releases the chemical dopamine to the brain of vulnerable young people who can become dependent on playing.
“We dug into it and we realized there was a strong case for it,” said Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal.
Chartrand said her firm was contacted by parents interested in suing the company for producing such an addictive game. She is asking others concerned about their child’s dependence on the game to come forward.
Interestingly, much of the lawsuit is based on a similar motion filed against the tobbacco industry in 2015. The argument here is that game makers are not telling consumers just how addictive gaming can be, especially the kind of rush you get from coming out on top in a battle against 99 of your closest friends.
“It’s basically the same legal basis,” Chartrand said. “It’s very centred on the duty to inform.”
That multi-billion-dollar tobacco lawsuit is still playing out in court as the three implicated companies look to secure creditor protection.
The lawsuit claims that Epic hired psychologists to help them develop a highly-addictive game, and Chartrand said there’s legal recourse for not giving parents and consumers in general knowledge of this ahead of time.
“They knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth.”
“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,'” she said, noting there are treatment centres around the world and in even in Quebec that are helping users quit Fortnite.
Meanwhile, longtime Fortnite players are figuring out how to say goodbye to their favorite spots on the map as the game appears to be due for a major reset in the coming weeks.