WTF?! A man in China spent more than $1.4 million, developing his character in the Chinese MMORPG Justice Online. As if that in itself was not bizarre enough, the man's friend sold the avatar to someone else for $552, and the original owner had to pay another $13,000 to get it back.
The story reads like some strange sitcom episode from an alternate reality. The South China Morning Post reports the unnamed player "loaned" the character to his friend. The supposed "friend" (now former presumably) then tried to sell it back to him for 388,000 yuan ($55,138).
When the original owner did not want to fork up the dough to get his avatar back, the buddy turned around and sold it on the game's marketplace, hosted by NetEase, for 3,888 yuan ($552). He attributed the low price as a typo caused by a long session of gaming, but before he had time to retract the offer, someone has already snagged it.
"After the settlement, the local court in Sichuan posted on social media that the case was a great example of the protection of digital assets, and it warned gamers not to spend too much in video games."
Having heard of the sale, the original owner sued both his friend and NetEase. A Chinese judge mediated the bizarre case.
In the final settlement, NetEase reversed the transaction and gave the owner back control of his character. However, the man had to pay the buyer 90,000 yuan ($12,789) in damages --- more than 23 times what he purchased the character for on the marketplace. Of course, that is about a 77-percent discount off what his supposed friend tried to extort out of him.
The lesson here is: if you have a digital asset that you care about, don't lend it out, even to a friend. More importantly, don't spend a million dollars on your game characters, people. You're the reason microtransactions are out of control in the industry.