In 2019, parents worried that their children had stopped eating, sleeping, and showering to play Fortnite took action, filing a class-action lawsuit against the game’s maker, Epic Games, and its Canadian subsidiary.
Since then, a Canadian court has been assessing the case and debating whether or not it could proceed.
Now, Judge Sylvain Lussier has sided with the plaintiffs, agreeing that the claim “does not appear to be frivolous or manifestly ill-founded." The legal proceedings will now go ahead as the plaintiffs "have a valid product liability claim against the defendants."
"The court concludes that there is a serious issue to be argued, supported by sufficient and specific allegations as to the existence of risks or even dangers arising from the use of Fortnite," Judge Lussier said.
However, the judge did not agree with the claim that Fortnite had been deliberately created to be addictive.
"The court finds that there is no evidence for these allegations of the deliberate creation of an addictive game. This does not exclude the possibility that the game is in fact addictive and that its designer and distributor are presumed to know it."
The lawsuit was first initiated in 2019 by Montreal-based legal firm Calex Légal on behalf of the parents of two minors (aged 10 and 15 at the time) who claimed that Epic Games knowingly created Fortnite to be as addictive as possible. One of the children within the claim had reportedly logged over 7,700 hours in the game over two years.
At the time, Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal, claimed that Epic Games had even "hired psychologists" in an effort to make Fortnite "as addictive as possible." Chartrand also claimed that Epic Games, knowing Fortnite was created to be as addictive as possible, failed to warn players of the risk of addiction. Because of this, the legal challenge has been centralized around the duty to inform.
Released in 2017, Fortnite is one of the most popular online games, especially among children. It has a registered player base of more than 400 million and at least 83 million players per month. In 2021, nearly 60% of those registered players claimed to be between the ages of 18 and 24, according to the website Business of Apps.
Epic Games, meanwhile, contends that it is the parents’ responsibility to control how much their children play, and that Fortnite has “industry-leading parental controls that empower parents to supervise their child’s digital experience,” according to spokesperson Natalie Munoz.
Epic Games also argued, based on findings from the American Psychiatric Association, that there isn't enough evidence for the actual existence of video game addiction.
The company has stated that it plans "to fight this in court."
"The recent decision only allows the case to proceed," Munoz explained to ABC News. "We believe the evidence will show the case is meritless."