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Fortnite’s cosmetic items need to become harder to purchase so that I can keep my Batman dabs

Fortnite’s cosmetic items need to become harder to purchase so that I can keep my Batman dabs

Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite, needed to find a way to make their free-to-play battle royale game profitable. As the game started rising in popularity in 2018, Fortnite began to collaborate with brands and companies to create licensed cosmetic items for players. The items vary from wraps to change how the weapons look, dance moves and actions called emotes that can be used during a match, and most popular, branded character skins which act as costumes for your playable character.

The presence of these branded cosmetic items as optional purchases for players in the game is the reason for Fortnite’s massive revenue: the game made more than $5 billion dollars in 2020 and is expected to make more than $6 billion this year. 

However, these in-game purchases, or microtransactions, have been criticized for being predatory toward children. Recently, Epic Games was forced to pay $500 million in penalties because of children’s privacy violations and shady transaction policies. The FTC criticized Epic for its “dark patterns and billing practices” that made purchasing items and in-game currency too easy so that they could get more revenue.

Epic Games’ actions are despicable. But at the same time, microtransactions are essential to the game’s profitability and make the game feel fresh to gamers who in some cases have been playing Fortnite for nearly a decade.

With over 100 pop culture tie-ins featured in the game, there is a skin for everyone. From NBA stars to hit anime shows to blockbuster movies, every person can find a property in Fortnite they enjoy. These skins allow for creativity and individuality within a game of millions of players, and allow for the wildest combinations of brands to take place that makes any pop-culture fan excited.

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How can Epic solve the dilemma of needing to halt predatory purchasing practices while continuing to push in-game purchases? For starters, Epic needs to institute stricter age-restrictions for making purchases. Further, Epic should require more parental involvement when making purchases and should not store credit card information for younger users — and the company should offer a function in which access to in-game purchases can be eliminated altogether.

Being able to play as your favorite comic book character and utilize popular dance moves to humiliate vanquished opponents makes the game feel more personal. Epic Games needs to change their practices, so I can continue to have moments in which I can watch Batman charge my character with Captain America’s shield in hand, rise in the air to annihilate me with the energy attack Kamehameha from Dragon Ball, and then use the Griddy dance move while “Right Foot Creep” by YoungBoy Never Broke Again played, to add further insult to injury.

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