See what Talion has to say about this topic.

Posted by Blenfjorn 10 months ago

This is weird, but I notice sometimes characters are just gone, and it is months after they quit the game, while others leave for a year or more and still exist. They will disappear from my friend list and I search them, and the character doesn't exist anymore. These are people I still talk to on Discord also, and in one case someone I know in real life. Does SBI delete characters for inactivity? One actually co-owned me to her island before she quit and I had some animals there. Luckily nothing of great monetary value, but I have a few animals gifted to me, which were living there as "pets". Anyway, not a huge deal, but very odd.

Is there a criteria for SBI deleting accounts, or is it random? I know of people who quit longer ago but their characters still exist.

Posted by Talion 10 months ago (Source)

Hey @Blenfjorn,

We're not deleting accounts unless people ask us to. If your friend said that they haven't done anything of the sort, then I do not see a reason why the account shouldn't still be there.

Which brings us to the error message that you screenshotted and had me intrigued (and also saw the same message when using the copypasted name from this thread) - as normally, it would give you an "xxx is offline" message.
I've checked with a bunch of character names that I know exist - for some, I've received the same message you screenshotted, for some, I've received "is offline". So far no idea why that might be the case - something for QA to figure out.

Anyways, the tl;dr is: I don't see a reason why your friend shouldn't reinstall and come back.

-Talion

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