Eve Online virtual war 'costs $300,000' in damage
A missed bill payment has led to the destruction of an estimated $300,000-worth (£181,000) of virtual spaceships in the game Eve Online.
Eve Online's more than 500,000 members can buy spaceships using an in-game currency bought with real-world money.
The game's developers said 75 Titan ships were destroyed in a battle after one member of a team missed a payment to protect an area of the online world.
It was the biggest battle of its kind in the game's 10-year history.
The title's developers told the Associated Press the final cost of the battle was expected to go much higher.
More than 4,000 gamers were involved, with thousands more watching the action online.
Eve Online is a detailed space simulation that sees players fly spaceships through thousands of virtual star systems, seeking resources they can use to prosper.
The resources can be found on planets and in asteroid fields or acquired through piracy or other underhand means.
Ships vary in size from small trading vessels to giant capital ships.
The value of the damage is based on the game's exchange rate, and does not necessarily mean players have lost money - as the in-game currency can be earned by carrying out tasks in game, as well as by handing over real cash.
As players flocked to be part of the battle, the game's servers struggled to handle the load.
"I'd be lying if I said our servers weren't sweating a bit,'' said Eve Online spokesman Ned Coker.
"Allowing players free movement wherever they want in a game with over half a million players means for some pretty tricky technological requirements.''
To combat this, the game's world was slowed down to make sure no commands from players were missed.
The battle has piqued interest and discussion about the title among the gaming community, including from those who had never played the game.
"I keep thinking, I would love it," wrote LockeNCole on Reddit.
"I could build a little section of the universe for my own.
"Then I realise I have kids and would rather play with them."