Fortnite addiction lawsuit: Epic Games facing class action suit from parents

Fortnite has a worldwide audience of more than 80 million players.

ByMons Kosar Abdi ABCNews logo
Sunday, December 11, 2022
Fortnite addiction lawsuit: Epic Games facing class action suit from parents
According to the suit, parents are arguing that their children experienced symptoms of addiction to Fortnite, like not eating, sleeping or showering.

The parents suing the makers of the popular game Fortnite have cleared a legal hurdle. A judge is allowing a class action suit to move forward.

The suit claims the game is specifically designed to get kids addicted.

That newly authorized class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of parents in Canada, alleges Epic Games designed Fortnite to create a dependency in users and failed to provide warnings of the risks associated with playing.

The online video game, which has a teen rating, is an interactive combat game with advanced graphics and has more than 250 million registered users worldwide.

Boston mom, Deanna Greenstein, said she noticed her 12 and 13 year old sons became obsessed almost instantly.

"It really consumes their lives, that they were coming home from school and they didn't want to go outside to play basketball. They didn't want to go and physically hang out with their friends," she said.

She even noticing a change in their behavior.

"I didn't like how angry it made them. I would say it's definitely addictive," Greenstein said.

The World Health Organization has categorized video game addiction as a mental health disorder.

"They actually, just like with a drug or alcohol, they actually experience withdrawal," Dr. Andrew Newberg said. "Symptoms they might feel kind of down or upset or irritable when they're not able to play their games."

Epic Games is pushing back, vowing to fight the allegations in court saying the claims are meritless. In a statement to ABC News, the game maker said, "We have industry-leading parental controls that empower parents to supervise their child's digital experience."

Questions now on whether the class action lawsuit filed in Quebec could pave the way for similar suits here in the U.S. However, the tool used by the American Psychiatric Association called the diagnostic and statistical manual, or DSM, does not classify gaming addiction as a mental disorder.

"The people filing it would have to convince the court not to go with the DSM," said David Glass, who is an attorney and former psychologist. "At this point, it's unlikely. There are no U.S. courts that have gone with WHO versus going with the DSM."