Making big money in real estate in the online world

A number of stories in recent years have highlighted the increasing amount of real money changing hands in online games or environments. A recent example comes from the Entropia Universe where a gamer sold his property for over $600,000:

Take, for instance, what just went down on Planet Calypso, where one of Entropia’s wealthier players has sold off his interests in a “resort asteroid” for an eye-popping $635,000.

The seller is Jon Jacobs, also known as the character ‘Neverdie’. He originally purchased the asteroid in 2005 — eventually converting it into the extravagant resort ‘Club Neverdie’ — for the then-record price of $100,000. For those keeping score, that’s a gain of over $500,000 in just five years. In nerdier terms, that’s an ROI of 535%. Match that, Citibank.

And we’re not talking about Monopoly money here. Launched by Swedish developer MindArk in 2003, Entropia Universe features a real-world, fixed-rate currency exchange that works just like chips at a casino: players trade real cash for in-game funds called PEDs (Project Entropia Dollars), which can at any point be redeemed back for real, spendable cash — minus a transaction fee, of course.

Jacobs was making money from the get-go, however, having earned back his initial hundred-grand investment in just eight months. How? By selling rights to hunt and mine on the asteroid, as well as selling off bits of real estate. He worked it much like any real world landlord, really, but with a lot less red tape and a lot more graphics.

With that kind of a return on investment, will more people flock to these realms to make money? How many people in the world make a steady income based on online gaming?

There has to be a good sociological study being done out there about these types of transactions…

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