China’s Civil Code Allows In-Game Virtual Items to be Inherited

Recently, China’s parliament unveiled its first draft of the civil code, a wide ranging legislative package that includes the protection of civil rights including property, contract, personality, marriage, infringement, and inheritance. 

In the law regarding inheritance, the government made a significant change that could influence the Chinese gaming industry, specifically as it pertains to in-game virtual items.

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The original 1985 edition of China’s “Inheritance Law” included civil income, house property, trees, cultural relics, and copyright. The new civil code deleted the above term, and changed it to “When a natural person dies, the legacy is the personal legal property left by she/he.” Therefore, the change means internet property and virtual currency will be inherited.

In an interview with China Central Television (CCTV), China’s main state-run channel, Lixin Zhang, professor at Renmin University of China, stated that the 1985 edition of Inheritance Law has been unable to adapt to the current needs of 2020 Chinese society. China has been developing rapidly, and multiple laws and regulations need to improve.

Nowadays, in-game items can fetch high prices in their respective community markets. For example, the “Alpine Stalker’s Set,” a skin set in Dota 2, can be priced as high as $1, 200. In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), a gun called the “StatTrak M4A4 Howl” can be resold at up to $26,000, making it the most expensive item in CS:GO. 

How the law allows these virtual items to be inherited is still to be seen i.e. will the accounts holding the items be passed on, or just the items themselves? Between May 21-28, China will host the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress, with the draft of the civil code to be discussed.