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This gamer almost lost a $1.4 million character

Some people aren't messing around when it comes to building their characters in their favorite games. In fact, late last year, an MMORPG character was literally held as a hostage once and has become the subject of a legal battle.

In a story that sounds like something out of the first act of a Black Mirror episode, a man in China was massively into the game Justice Online. Over the course of his time playing the game, he invested around $1.4 million dollars into his character. In Justice Online, as with many MMORPGs, players can purchase upgrades for their characters. These purchases include stat boosts, weaponry, and new clothing for their custom warrior. It seems that this gamer had plenty of time and money on his hands, because it's not every day that you see a sum like that attached to a virtual character.

Unfortunately for this player, he seemingly trusted his character to the wrong person. There has been a bit of back and forth about how this exactly went down, but the facts seem to be that the player who owned the character loaned the account to a friend. The friend played with this super expensive character for a while and then listed the character profile for sale on the in-game marketplace for NetEase, the publisher behind Justice Online. Not only that, but this friend had listed the character for sale at a paltry 3,888 yuan, which is equivalent to roughly $552 USD.

Naturally, the original owner of the character was none too pleased with this and filed a lawsuit against both his "friend" and NetEase. The friend's defense wasn't exactly great, either: he claims he had been trying to sell the character back to the original owner for 38,888 yuan and mistyped because he was tired. This means that he fully intended to profit off of a character that wasn't his to sell in the first place. However, after posting the extraordinarily expensive character for such a low price, the character was immediately snatched up by another gamer who noticed it in the NetEase marketplace.

The lawsuit led to a judge overseeing a mediation between all three parties via an online meeting. In the end, NetEase was able to cancel the transaction and get the character back into the hands of the person to whom it belonged. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, it was ruled that he had to pay damages to the unwitting player who had purchased the character on the NetEase marketplace. All in all, it was a messy situation that shows the dangers that can come from investing too much money in online gaming. There's nothing illegal about spending as much money as you want on your ideal fantasy character in your favorite game, but some people will try to ruin it for everyone else.

In fact, the local court where this incident took place issued a warner to gamers after the whole debacle. It reaffirmed its stance on limited exposure to video games and cautioned players against investing that much money in games. As we've covered before, China has a bit of a weird history when it comes to video games. Many games have been banned in China, and the country has passed strict curfew laws for gamers. Young gamers are only allowed to play up to 90 minutes of video gaming per day, with a cut-off time of 10 P.M. When things like this are capable of happening with such large sums of money and the law getting involved, it's easy to see why some lawmakers in China are still wary of video games.

If you think that it's odd for someone to spend so much money on a single game, then strap in. This isn't even an isolated case. Back in 2018, The Telegraph covered players who sank hundreds of thousands of dollars into their gaming experiences. EVE Online players have spent thousands on upgrading and expanding their fleet of spaceships. Meanwhile, one Entropia Universe player dropped a cool $100,000 on an in-game nightclub. He did this by remortgaging his own home in real life so that he could afford to expand his in-game holdings. He would later sell his asteroid-based virtual club for a staggering $635,000.

There's real money to be made and spent in virtual worlds, but that unfortunately means there are also thieves out there. As this Justice Online player learned the hard way, some people are just too opportunistic when it comes to other people's hard-earned possessions, regardless of whether they're digital or physical.