Japanese software developer Square Enix, the publisher of hit video game franchises such as “Final Fantasy” and “Kingdom Hearts,” has earned the ire of a gamer who felt cheated by one of its games’ loot box system.
In video games, a loot box is a virtual item which can be purchased or earned by playing. After opening a “box,” it produces a randomized selection of in-game customization options for a player’s character, such as weapons and armor.
In relation to one of the Square Enix games’ loot box mechanics, this disgruntled gamer wrote a fiery email to the Tokyo-based company on Feb 5.
“Employees of Square Enix! Tomorrow I’m going to kill you. Wash your necks and wait!” the email read.
While the last part of the threat might sound a strange, it’s reportedly a very “old-school death threat” in Japanese which basically means “I’m going to kill you.”
The origin of the phrase traces its roots back in the feudal era when samurai were used to severing their enemies’ heads.
According to Soranews24, ”wash your neck,” or any similar phrase makes reference of the potentially embarrassing moment for the victim whose neck was dirty at the time when the killer presented his/her head to his lord as proof of his contributions on the battlefield.
Acting on the threat posed by the email, Square Enix tightened its office security measures and immediately coordinated with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s Shinjuku Precinct.
Weeks later, the authorities eventually identified the email sender as a 25-year-old man who lives in the town of Yoshinogawa in Tokushima Prefecture.
The unnamed man, who works in the nursing care industry, admitted to sending the email upon his arrest on March 29.
He explained that he was irked after spending an exorbitant amount of money on Square Enix’s randomized loot boxes and still not getting his desired item.
“I used more than 200,000 yen ($1,800) on a game, but I didn’t get the item I wanted, so I sent the email to take revenge.” he reportedly said upon questioning.
After it was established that the man did not show up at Square Enix’s offices the day after he sent the email, investigators surmised that his intention was merely to frighten Square Enix’s employees.
He is now facing charges of criminal intimidation and forcible obstruction of business operations.
Loot boxes in games have recently been criticized as being anti-consumer, especially when implemented in full-priced games.
It is often considered as a form of gambling and has become regulated under gambling law in certain regions such as China, Japan, Australia, and the Low Countries (Netherlands) as a result of a number investigations by federal gambling regulators during the late 2010s.
In December, three Square Enix mobile games (Kingdom Hearts Union X, Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia, Mobius Final Fantasy) were removed from service in Belgium due to “loot boxes” which violate the country’s anti-gambling laws.