Internet

More Virtual Theft Charges Leveled At Beijing Online Game Company

The Beijing Morning Post is reporting that Beijing Arctic Ice Technology Development Co. Ltd, the Chinese online video game company, is facing its second lawsuit in only a year after one of its users claimed he suffered the loss of a virtual 5,000-yuan worth of virtual weapons and equipment.

Li Xuguanghas complained that his virtual property in the popular online computer game Qiannian (Millennium) was first looted by a hacker and then locked up by the server programs. Beijing Arctic Ice gave no response to Li, despite repeated requests for help.

With an emphasis on combat and martial arts, Millennium drops players into a virtual world where they can challenge rivals by enhancing their wushu levels. Weapons and other martial arts equipment play a key role in the game, and can only be achieved by purchasing them with virtual cash or winning fights.

Li Hongchen, 24, was the first person to bring Beijing Arctic Ice Technology Development Co. Ltd. to court earlier in 2003, beginning the country's first lawsuit on virtual theft. The "weapons", which Li Hongchen achieved by spending two years and 10,000 yuan in online fees in another game Hongyue (Red Moon), were "stolen" last February and the company refused to identify the hacker who stole them. Although the company argued that the value of the virtual property only existed in the game, the court ruled last December that the firm should restore the player's lost items, finding the company liable because of loopholes in the server programs that made it easy for hackers to break in. The company has since appealed to a higher court.

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