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Chinese Cyber Shoplifter Sparks Outrage Among Gamers

By Cecil Gao
Apr. 20, 2023 updated 06:50

A recent incident in China involving a cyber shoplifter has sparked outrage among gamers in the country and around the world, for it has shed light on the sometimes murky world of video game sales and the lengths to which some people will go to obtain games for free.

The incident began when a buyer purchased two copies of a video game called “Village 4” on the online marketplace. “Village 4” is actually a code name for the popular video game Resident Evil 4 Remake, which had been banned in China due to violence and horror. The buyer then pretended to be unaware of this and requested a refund, claiming that he thought he was purchasing a farming simulation game called “village”.

However, the buyer then refused to return the purchased copies of the game, stating that he would instead turn them in to the local industrial and commercial bureau because of the illegal nature of the products.

It's not uncommon to use code names to represent banned video games in China's 3rd party gaming market. As this vast market exists in a legal gray area, the Chinese government mostly adopts a neutral attitude and does not strictly control it, as long as the merchants do not directly use the names and images of banned games for promotion.

Animal Crossing was banned in China, and since the game published on the same day with DOOM, the code name for Animal Crossing is “the tough guy who picks branches”Animal Crossing was banned in China, and since the game published on the same day with DOOM, the code name for Animal Crossing is “the tough guy who picks branches”

After multiple unsuccessful requests from the seller, the buyer refused to return the game discs and even rejected the seller's offer to personally retrieve it from the buyer's residence. Subsequently, the buyer reported the sale of prohibited games on the online shopping platform out of anger, resulting in the removal of a large number of the seller’s game listings by the platform administrators and putting the seller at risk of significant financial hardship.

Ultimately, Pinduoduo, the shopping platform, granted the buyer a refund without requiring the return of the product. As a result, the buyer had successfully obtained two free game discs. However, the seller then posted all the chat records online, seeking help, instantly generating an enormous amount of attention.

The Chinese console market has always been contentious, with Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo players often arguing in online communities, but this incident united Chinese console players like never before. They quickly obtained the buyer's personal information and bombarded him with text messages, threatening letters, and even real funeral supplies.

Players also visited the offline shop that seller owns for supportPlayers also visited the offline shop that seller owns for support

Upon learning that the buyer was a university student in Shanghai, many gamers contacted the buyer's parents and school, informing them of the buyer's unethical behavior. On April 17th, two days after the refund incident, the buyer, who was dubbed the "Disc Stealing Man", posted an apology letter on the PS5 board of social media, Tieba, claiming that a friend had used his phone number to purchase the game and that he had no direct involvement in the matter.

The apologize the buyer published on TiebaThe apologize the buyer published on Tieba

However, he did admit to accepting one of the game discs and did not prevent his friend's fraudulent behavior. This explanation clearly did not gain the players' approval, and they continued to harass and denounce the buyer's actions. Other classmates of the buyer even attempted to confront him offline.

The buyer posted again the next day, claiming to have given back all the money to the seller on the online marketplace and apologizing once more to everyone. Given the attention the story gained, the situation escalated, inspiring multiple imitators. On the same day, another refund for the Resident Evil 4 Remake occurred. Although the other buyer quickly returned the money, most online stores selling the game removed it overnight, insisting that the game is permanently banned from sale.

This incident has had a significant impact on China's console game community, stirring up a great deal of attention in an area where people do not want to see regulation or attention from the government. Similar incidents will undoubtedly happen in the future, at least until this gray market is replaced with a legitimate one that can protect sellers and buyers, removing the fear of what drawing attention or controversy may bring.