MONTREAL, CANADA—The law firm Calex Légal has filed a request to pursue a Class Action lawsuit against Epic Games in Canada. The firm alleges that the action was made “because of the highly addictive nature of the game.” In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal, made the claim that Epic Games hired psychologists in an effort to make Fortnite as addictive as possible.
The lawsuit cites a study by addiction psychologist Dr. Anita Ghadia-Smith who claims that Fortnite can cause addiction similar to cocaine. Calex Légal alleges that Fortnite causes to the release of so much dopamine, that normal levels no longer satisfy a person, meaning they must play more Fortnite in order to feel happy. This is why the parents of 2 children, ages 10 and 15, believe their kids have become addicted to the game and are the first plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Calex Légal is building on a Quebec Superior Court ruling from 2015 that found tobacco companies didn’t warn the public about the dangers of smoking in order to move forward with the lawsuit. The law firm believes it was Epic Games’ duty to disclose the addictive nature of Fortnite. The 38-page filing cites the World Health Organization’s recognition of “gaming disorder,” along with Prince Harry’s statements about Fortnite being addictive, as supporting documents for the lawsuit.
Whether or not any of the allegations in the lawsuit are true, it poses a potentially large risk for Epic Games. Should the court decide to allow the lawsuit to proceed, the class would include all Fortnite players since September 2017. Furthermore, a sub-group of players under the age of 13 who made a purchase in the game may be entitled to further compensation. Calex Légal has not announced how much they will request in damages.
In addition to the ill effects for Epic Games, the lawsuit will also pose a threat for the gaming and Esports industry as a whole. The filing also calls out the ESA for publishing “propaganda” following the WHO’s classification of gaming disorder. This lawsuit, and others like it, may continue to have a negative effect on the rapidly-growing Esports industry in the near future.
Written by Efren Hurtado