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Epic Games faces class action lawsuit in Canada

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Developer failed to adequately warn of game’s dangers, alleges lawsuit

A Canadian law firm has begun proceedings to open a class action lawsuit against Epic Games.

Acting on behalf of the parents of two minors, Montreal-based Calex Legal filed a legal notice late last week, claiming that Epic Games knowingly created Fortnite to be as addictive as possible.

According to the filing, the two unnamed minors — aged ten and 15 — have both developed addictions to Fortnite, spending around $600 and $500 respectively on the game over the past year or so.

Citing the World Health Organisation (WHO) gaming disorder classification, Calex Legal highlights comparisons to both heroin and cocaine addiction.

“Human psychology and manipulation of the human brain has been the epicenter of Fortnite development process that has been specially designed to be highly addictive,” reads the filing.

However, it is worth noting that the WHO deliberately avoids using the word “addiction” in its classification, defining gaming disorder as a behavioural problem which lasts for 12 consequtive months or longer.

The filing also claims that Epic worked with psychologists in developing Fortnite, citing an article by former UX designer Celia Hodent, who holds a PhD in psychology.

During a recent parliamentary inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies in which Epic Games provided evidence to UK lawmakers, legal counsel Canon Pence said the company does not employ psychologists to help design its games.

Calex Legal emphasises its belief that Epic designed Fortnite to be addictive though regular content updates, daily gamified challenges, visual style, and randomized elements; the filing argues that Epic failed to make the dangers of addiction clear to parents or players.

“It is clear that the defendants knew the risks of addiction posed by Fortnite since [they] created Fortnite [with] the undeniable goal to make it addictive,” reads the filing.

“However, the defendants knowingly and voluntarily decided not to disclose to users the risks and dangers associated with Fortnite, choosing instead to deny the addictive aspect of the product.

“Despite reports of several experts on addiction risks Fortnite, the defendants still do not address them as this would jeopardize their record profitability.”

According to Calex Legal attorney Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, this case bears a resemblance to a 2015 suit in the Quebec Superior Court which ruled that tobacco companies failed to provide adequate warning about the dangers of smoking.

“It’s basically the same legal basis,” she told CBC. “It’s very centred on the duty to inform.”

While the Fortnite terms of service include a class-action waiver, Chartrand told CBC that such terms don’t stand up in the Quebec courts because of provincial consumer protection laws.

GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to Epic Games for comment.

Legal filing translated from French to English with DocTranslator, and help from Marie Dealessandri.

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Hong Kong Overwatch team ‘proud of representing’ region at World Cup

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Hong Kong’s national Overwatch team raised more than $11,000 to attend Blizzard Entertainment’s upcoming Overwatch World Cup following the company’s ban of Hearthstone player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai.

A representative of the Overwatch team told Polygon last week it was “discussing” how to proceed in the Overwatch World Cup after Blizzard banned Chung for supporting ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong during an official Hearthstone broadcast. (Blizzard has since reduced Chung’s suspension to six months and returned his prize money.) Today, the Overwatch World Cup team, called the Fire Dragons, announced it will attend the event in Anaheim, California in November.

“The past few months have been very challenging for everyone on Team Hong Kong and it has been difficult to stay focused on our Overwatch program,” a team representative said. “We have tried our best to ensure that all of our players can prepare without distraction but this is not an easy task especially with the recent news surrounding blitzchung.”

It continued:

After a deep discussion with our players, we believe that the chance to represent Hong Kong spirit and values on the global stage is too valuable to give up. While it could be more comfortable for us to shy away from this event, we believe it is more important now than ever to ensure that everyone sees the faces of players on our team; the faces of Hong Kong people proud of representing their community.

Therefore, Team Hong Kong has confirmed with Blizzard that we will be attending the 2019 Overwatch World Cup.

Thank you to our staff who have worked diligently in their roles throughout the recent turmoil surrounding them.

To the global Overwatch Community: we are humbled and grateful to have received your generous support from here at home and from abroad. Your support has enabled us to travel without burden and we are incredibly thankful for it. Your support has helped us muster the courage to take on this journey.

The team opened up its crowdfunding initiative in August. After blitzchung’s suspension in early October, the campaign received a major uptick in donations from players across the globe expressing their support for the team and the region. Team Hong Kong surpassed its initial goal and raised $11,375. While Blizzard has previously funded team trips for the Overwatch World Cup, the developer is only providing full trips to the top 10 teams participating in the event — all others are on their own, which is why many have taken to crowdfunding.

The Overwatch World Cup will be held Nov. 1 to 2 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California during Blizzard’s annual BlizzCon event.

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Fortnite leaves players staring at a black hole

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Clare Duffy, CNN Business


Published Monday, October 14, 2019 10:33AM EDT


Last Updated Monday, October 14, 2019 10:38AM EDT

A special event to mark the end the tenth season of Fortnite has plunged legions of players into a black hole.

Players logged in Sunday to participate in an event called “The End” as the game prepares to launch its next iteration. But around 2 p.m. EDT, a rocket on the island where Fortnite is set blew up the landscape in the game and dragged all of the players into a black hole, leaving nothing but a mostly dark screen and a spinning black hole and no way for users to play.

The outage persisted into the early hours of Monday.

Fortnite is one of the most widely played video games, especially popular with teenagers. Even four hours after the game had gone down, about 50,000 people were still actively watching the game’s live stream of the black hole on YouTube; another 100,000 were watching on Twitch. Rod Breslau, an esports and gaming consultant, estimated that millions of gamers in total tuned in.

Games like Fortnite occasionally go down for server maintenance, usually to the disappointment of users. But mostly, Fortnite is known for its ever-changing updates, so it would be a creative twist to turn an intentional outage into a plot point. It is unclear how long the outage will last. Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The blackout caused some users on Twitter to speculate that Epic was really bringing the game to an end. But most think it’s a strategy to get users excited about the next season of Fortnite, after plateauing user interest in the game in recent months.

“Fortnite Season 10 is coming to an end, and all of this is hype for Season 11,” Breslau told CNN Business. “Instead of just the standard update approach that Epic does for Fortnite … which is going down for a few hours to apply an update, Epic has created an entire marketing and social media campaign, along with a narrative story around it.”

Breslau called Sunday’s black hole explosion and subsequent outage “the most watched gaming event in history,” with millions of viewers on Twitch and YouTube.

“Epic Games are geniuses,” he said.

A statement from PlayStation on Twitter assured players that the digital money and “inventory” they have on the game would not be lost as a result of the blackout.

After the Fortnite outage, some users also complained they could no longer log in to play any other games from Epic, either. The company confirmed on Twitter that its game launcher was down, but said shortly afterward it had returned to normal.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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When is Fortnite back for Chapter 2

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Fortnite’s big black hole event is still underway, and as the hours go by, fans are working themselves into a frenzy. What do the numbers mean? Are we getting a new map? But more importantly: When is Fortnite coming back?

While we can’t say for sure, players have theories. Most discussions are coming from data miners who are digging around for clues. The first piece of the puzzle comes from trusted leaker Lucas7Yoshi, who found that the official Fortnite website seemed to suggest that “The End” event will conclude on Tuesday:

Since that viral tweet, however, Lucas notes that the code has been updated to say later in the week. However, another data miner notes that players in China are being told that the new season is starting for them on Tuesday as well:

The problem, of course, is that China’s version of Fortnite may not be on the same timeline as the rest of the world. So, that’s not very conclusive.

But another thing that’s got people talking comes to us via Fortnite star Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who told people that he’d give them a clue about Fortnite Chapter 2 if he got enough retweets. The hint that came afterwards was this:

Tacos? What?

This is admittedly silly, but the leading theory is that he is referencing Taco Tuesday. Meaning, perhaps Fortnite’s black hole will conclude on Tuesday.

All of what I’ve presented above is circumstantial evidence of course, and shouldn’t be taken as conclusive. But if you look at chatter online, it’s clear that players are starting to agree that Fortnite will be back in less than 24 hours.

Guess we’ll see soon enough!

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