Digital Inheritance in the Gaming Industry: What Happens to Your Online Avatars?

Explore digital inheritance in gaming. Discover its impact on gamers, families, and companies. Millions invest in virtual assets with real-world value. Join us at the crossroads of technology and personal legacy in this brief exploration.

Digital Inheritance in the Gaming Industry: What Happens to Your Online Avatars? In the ever-evolving digital landscape, digital inheritance is emerging as a significant concern, particularly in the gaming industry. Millions invest countless hours and substantial resources into crafting elaborate online avatars, creating a tangible digital identity with real-world value.

As gamers, we invest our time, emotions, and money into our virtual characters. But have you ever considered what happens to your online avatar and other gaming items after you're gone? This intriguing question lies at the intersection of technology, law, and personal legacy, leading us to explore the uncharted territories of digital inheritance within the gaming industry.

This unique concern has profound implications for gamers, their families, and gaming companies. In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating world of digital legacy and discover what the future might hold for our intangible assets.

Popular Online Games That Can Be Passed Down

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft has dominated online gaming for nearly two decades with its world called Azeroth. Players have invested countless hours developing characters, acquiring rare items and virtual currency with real-world value. The company's terms prohibit selling or transferring accounts, but a grey market exists through player auctions.

Second Life

This game's virtual world mirrors real life and has an economy where users buy, sell, or rent property and other goods. Accounts and Linden dollars accumulated can be passed down if adequately documented.

IMVU

This game focuses on socializing in a 3D avatar chat space. You accumulate virtual goods to customize your look over time. While individual assets could be gifted, the fate of an entire account after death is controlled by IMVU's policies against selling or transferring accounts.

Companies behind these digital playgrounds tend to discourage or prohibit transferring accounts, with few fully embracing inheritance rights. You should check each game's terms of service and talk with your family about your wishes for digital property after death.

The Challenges of Transferring Gaming Virtual Assets to Heirs

When you invest countless hours and real money into building up powerful avatars, rare items, and valuable currency in online games, you will naturally want to pass them on to your loved ones someday. But the reality is that transferring digital property after you die can be incredibly challenging. Here are some of the challenges you will likely encounter include:

  • Most game companies claim full ownership of all content in their games. If you have spent years earning special gear or leveling up an avatar, you are not legally allowed to give it away.
  • Terms of service agreements rarely address account inheritance. Without explicit procedures, your heirs may not have a path forward to gain access.
  • Security features like two-factor authentication pose roadblocks. Your heirs cannot validate your identity without access to your email or phone number.
  • Some games essentially erase inactive accounts after periods of inactivity, meaning heirs may lose access if they don't log in soon enough.
  • Tax implications around inheriting and selling virtual assets are complex and unclear when real money is involved.

While a few industry pioneers are exploring innovative solutions like NFT integrations and a centralized database of legacy contacts, most games still have no defined process for passing down virtual valuables.

If preserving your hard-earned collection matters, carefully review each gamer's policies and account tools around death and inheritance now. Make contingency plans by sharing login details or consolidating assets where possible. Proactive planning lets you gift your beloved avatars to those who matter most.

Options for Transferring Virtual Currency and Items

When it comes to your virtual currency, items, and avatars in online games, you have a few options for handling fate after you stop playing.

  • Give them to someone else while you're still alive. If a friend or family member enjoys the same games as you, consider passing your account to them. This allows you to see your avatar and other items go to good use. However, check the game's terms of service, as some may prohibit account transfers.
  • Sell your virtual assets for real money. Most games prohibit "real money trading," but there are marketplaces where you can sell rare items or accounts for cash. This option is risky as it violates TOU and may get accounts banned if discovered. Proceed with extreme caution using a trusted professional.
  • Allow your account to terminate after inactivity. This is the default for most games if you take no action. After inactivity, usually 12+ months, accounts and all associated virtual assets get deleted.
  • Donate virtual goods to charity. Some nonprofits accept donations for online gaming assets. This option "pays it forward" after you're gone or incapacitated.
  • Place them in your digital inheritance plan. Specify instructions for accessing gaming profiles in your will or estate plan documents. Appoint someone you trust to gain access to retrieve or handle the sale of your gaming collection.

Whatever you decide, the most crucial step is documenting account details like usernames, passwords, and instructions for your selected heir or executor. Without this information, accounts usually get terminated over time, permanently taking all your items out of circulation.

Tips for Securing Your Gaming Assets and Avatars

You probably invested a lot of time, effort, and possibly real money into building your online gaming profiles, avatars, assets, and achievements. That's why it's critical to plan for what happens to these virtual valuations after you're gone. Follow these tips to make sure your gaming legacy is preserved:

  • Designate a Digital Heir. Choose a gamer you trust, like a family member or close friend, to take over your gaming profiles when you pass away. Ensure they understand which games and avatars are essential to you.
  • Document Login Credentials. Store usernames and passwords for your gaming and avatar account in a safe place, like a password manager, to share with your designated heir. Update as needed.
  • Review Platform Policies. Check the terms of service and inheritance policies at platforms like Steam, World of Warcraft, and Second Life to understand what options are available.
  • Convert Assets to Money. Explore whether currency, gear, and other gaming assets can be converted to real cast and left to heirs.
  • Create Avatar Backups. Make copies of avatar files that capture their appearance, gear, and progress to aid inheritance transfers if allowed.
  • Leave Clear Instructions. Spell out your wishes for specific avatars and gaming profiles after you pass away so your heirs know what to do- sell, delete, or preserve.

Securing gaming avatar legacies takes some planning upfront, but it helps ensure your heir can carry on your achievements or cash them in. Treat these online valuables like any other asset as part of inheritance planning.

The Future of Digital Inheritance in the Gaming Industry

Digital inheritance in gaming is still a relatively new concept, but it will likely become increasingly important in years to come. Here is what the future of digital inheritance in the gaming industry holds:

Advances in legislation around digital asset inheritance

With the rise of NFTs and digital currency, lawmakers are scrambling to update estate laws to better account for these new digital properties. We'll likely see more official legal recognition of the inheritability of gaming assets and accounts. Gaming platforms may be required to add account transfer or nomination options.

Growth of accounts and avatar resale markets

If you have a valuable online gaming avatar or asset collection, it could be worth a lot of money to the right buyer. Service facilitating account transfers, avatar resales, and asset liquidation are likely to grow.

New platform policies for inactive accounts

We may see gaming platforms implement systematic ways to memorialize, delete, or transfer inactive accounts above a certain dormancy period. However, questions about privacy, data ownership, and heir access will need resolution first.

Development of digital estate planning services

Specialized estate planning attorneys and online services focused on planning for your digital legacy, including gaming assets, will become more common.

Though still unpredictable, the future looks bright for passing on your gaming progress and beloved virtual belongings to future generations more seamlessly. With planning, your heirs can inherit those valuable avatars and skins you have worked so hard to acquire.

Seek Digital Legacy Services from WillBox

While some platforms have clear policies about what happens after you die, others leave it more ambiguous. You need to understand each gaming platform's stance and plan accordingly if your gaming legacy matters.

Planning for their future is critical when it comes to your online gaming profile and avatars. Seek professional digital legacy services rather than leaving your gaming assets and accounts in limbo when you pass away.

At WillBox, we offer specialized digital legacy services for gamers. What's better? We let you dictate what happens to your gaming profiles after you die or become incapacitated. You control whether you want your accounts and other assets deleted, passed down to others or turned into memorials.

Compared to not making any arrangements, WillBox gives you and your loved ones peace of mind. Your accounts will transfer smoothly rather than be stuck in limbo, and your legacy contacts will appreciate having clear instructions. Sign up for free today and create a digital estate plan for your online gaming fortune.

Our service

At WillBox.me, we provide a complete digital estate planning service that helps you organize and manage your digital assets, so they can be accessed and transferred by your loved ones after you pass away or become incapacitated. Our service includes creating a digital inventory, determining who will have access, providing instructions on how to manage your assets, and securely storing your digital estate plan.


Subscribe to our service today, and gain peace of mind that your legacy will be protected.