A man who spent $1.4 million on MMORPG Justice Online to build up their character is now suing their friend who sold the avatar for a paltry $552 at a later date using the title's in-game marketplace, a sale that happened quickly thanks to the character's real worth. Justice Online is a martial arts MMO that is based on the novel The Four Great Constables, and features over six classes that center around realistic combat representation and a world that is completely PvP.
In-game fiscal rows aren't particularly new to the MMORPG genre, as games like EVE Online have even marketed themselves in a way that invites this kind of treachery and entrepreneurship. Of course, the MMORPGs that have these elements as potentially fundamental functionalities within the game also have rules and restrictions that prevent them from being exploited too much. In the case of EVE Online again, players can steal or swindle in-game items that have real life currency value, but ultimately theft and betrayal are political motivations that are well within the confines of the game. In the case of Justice Online - and, for that matter, with all games that have real life currency involved - stealing a player's account goes against terms of service and is punishable by publishers.
The man who spent $1.4 million on his Justice Online character only to have it stolen by someone who he thought was his friend has since filed a lawsuit against both his former buddy and NetEase, the publisher of Justice Online. According to a report from South China Morning Post detailing the matter, the rightful owner loaned the character to the friend, who then tried to sell it back to him for $55, 138 USD. When the owner refused, his friend then sold the character for a shockingly low $552 on the game's in-game marketplace. During the court mediation after the event, the friend who sold the character said he did so because he accidentally set the price too low with a typo, brought on by a marathon gaming session.
Since then, a settlement has been reached, and while the rightful owner now has their $1.4 million character back, it cost them - over $12,000 that had to be paid out to the player who bought the character for its extremely low price. Apparently, authorities in China are also using the Justice Online case as a precedent setting way for judges to oversee legal disputes in a remote setting.
Generally, it's a bad idea to share accounts with friends in any online games, but it's especially risky with a character worth over a million dollars. While it's good most of the Justice Online case was resolved without incident, it's a reminder that, as online video games become more prevalent still and online accounts become more valuable, players will need to take as many steps as necessary to protect their investments.