CARY – Epic Games will be the defendant in a class action lawsuit brought by multiple parents who allege that the popular Fortnite game was designed to be addictive, following an authorization by a Quebec Superior Court judge this week. But Epic says the suit is “meritless.”

“We plan to fight this in court,” said Natalie Munoz, communications director corporate for Cary-based Epic. “This recent decision only allows the case to proceed. We believe the evidence will show that this case is meritless.”

Epic earlier this week also launched new accounts aimed at younger players for Fortnite and as part of what it sees as creating a safer metaverse.

Epic Games launches kids accounts, wants ‘safe and inclusive’ metaverse

“We have industry-leading Parental Controls that empower parents to supervise their child’s digital experience,” Munoz said. “Parents can receive playtime reports that track the amount of time their child plays each week, and require parental permission before purchases are made, so that they can make the decisions that are right for their family.”

Other steps have been taken as well, Munoz added.

“We have also recently added a daily spending limit by default for players under the age of 13,” she said

The case was first brought to the court system in 2019.

A media report from 2019 notes that the original case was brought against U.S.-based Epic Games Inc. and its Canadian subsidiary on behalf of two parents of two children, aged 10 and 15.

The original filing harkened the effects of playing Fortnite to cocaine, noting playing releases dopamine and that this can lead to young people becoming dependent on gaming.

Tim Sweeney: Epic Games ‘has no plans’ for Fortnite virtual reality

An attorney working on the class action lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs noted that the case may be similar to a previous ruling made in 2015 by the Quebec Superior Court that found tobacco companies didn’t warn their customers about the dangers of smoking.

“[The game] has design patterns that make sure to always encourage player engagement. You have to understand that children’s prefrontal cortices are still developing … so that could be part of the explanation for why this game is particularly harmful,” Jean-Philippe Caron, one of the CaLex Legal lawyers working on the case told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In 2019, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, labeled Fortnite as “an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible” during a television interview.

Prince Harry: ban ‘Fortnite’; critics: he’s ‘clueless,’ game not ‘addictive’

More legal battles for Epic

Epic Games and Apple have been embroiled in legal actions that resumed in recent weeks.  Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said this week that “every politician should fear” Apple’s ability to control mobile applications.

That legal battle has been underway for more than two years and stemmed from when Apple banned Epic and its globally popular hit Fortnite from the app store.

But the comments from Sweeney this week came following a tweet where Sweeney noted that “Apple is a menace to freedom worldwide.”

“They maintain an illegal monopoly on app distribution, they use it to control American discourse, and they’re endangering protesters in China by storing sensitive customer data in a state-owned data center,” he added.

Epic Games-Apple antitrust battle resumes; Justice Dept. could help Fortnite case