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Prince Harry comments 'surprised' Fortnite makers

Group picture of Fortnite characters Image copyright Epic Games

The makers of Fortnite say they were "surprised" when Prince Harry called the game "irresponsible".

Back in April, the Duke of Sussex said the game should be banned.

"It's created to addict and keep you in front of the computer for as long as possible," he said at the time.

Speaking in front of MPs about video game addiction today, Canon Pence - who works for Epic Games - said they were "quite taken aback" by Prince Harry's comments.

"The statements made could not be further from the truth in our designs and philosophy and multi-decade approach to developing a long-term and sustainable relationship with our audience," he added.

Mr Pence's comments were made at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee meeting.

Image copyright Epic Games
Image caption Fortnite has 200 million registered players

Epic Games' Canon Pence and Matthew Weissinger were questioned alongside Shaun Campbell and Kerry Hopkins from Electronic Arts, who make games like Fifa and Battlefield.

Both games companies were questioned as the government is currently looking into how harmful social media and online gaming can be for young people - its safety plans are known as the Online Harms White Paper.

Image copyright ELECTRONIC ARTS
Image caption EA make the Fifa franchise

Google, Instagram and YouTube have already given evidence to the committee about the effects of social media.

Some of the questions at the DCMS meeting focused on whether games makers should offer a duty of care to players to ensure their welfare and whether there could be a better way to verify the ages of players.

Matthew Weissinger, who is Epic's head of marketing, said Fortnite has "a number of parental controls" to stop young users from being exploited by spending lots of money on the game.

"We're not interested in maximising profit from our players, we want to have an open and honest relationship," he said, adding that the maximum someone could spend in their Battle Royale game was around $200 (£159).

EA was asked by the committee about games addiction and how long users could spend playing things like Fifa.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fortnite's Battle Royale has several game add-ins

Shaun Campbell, who is EA's UK manager, said he himself sometimes spent around half an hour a day playing, saying the game was designed "to be engaging and fun to play".

"We want players to take a healthy and balanced approach to playing games, just like anything else.

"If you look at Fifa players, they are competitive and some want a career in E-Sports so they practise and spend time playing the game. It's about what feels out of balance for an individual," he added.

Both game-makers were also asked how closely they looked at the age of their players and whether they collected data on that.

Image copyright ELECTRONIC ARTS
Image caption PlayStation is the most popular platform for FIFA users in the UK, EA says

Kerry Hopkins, who runs EA's legal team, said it was the job of console makers like Sony to verify ages and was actually part of the sign-up process in creating an account.

"You can't create a PlayStation account if you are under 18. A parent has to set parental controls," she said.

"They can make choices about the time spent playing games and how much money is spent."

Canon Pence agreed saying: "It's our intention to collect the minimum amount of player data - Sony already has that account information".

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