Gaming Steve

November 10, 2005

Man Buys Virtual Island for $26,500 - Makes Money Back in a Year

Project Entropia Island PackageSome might remember last December when a 22-year-old gamer spent $26,500 on an island that exists only in the MMORPG Project Entropia. For those unfamiliar with Project Entropia it allows gamers to buy and sell virtual items using real cash. Players are allowed to exchange real currency for PED (Project Entropia Dollars) and then back again into real money.

At the time this story got a fair amount of airtime, with most news organizations taking the angle of "hey get this, some silly gamer 'bought' a virtual island for $26.5k ... what an idiot!" Well, that silly gamer is laughing no more as he managed to recoup his investment in less than one year.

According to the game developers the now 23-year-old gamer, know as only as Deathifier, has made the money back that he spent on the island. By selling land to build virtual homes as well as taxing other gamers to hunt or mine on the island he was able to generate an income on his virtual land. With his initial investment paid off, Deathifier can start making some real-world profit from a completely virtual property.

It will be interesting see how another virtual property in the game performs as just last month Project Entropia player Jon Jacobs bought a virtual space station for a mere $100,000. Jacobs plans to turn the space station into a virtual resort ground that spawns dinosaur-like monsters, which visitors can kill (actually, that sounds pretty damn cool). Jacobs will take a cut of the virtual resources that gamers will make selling the dinosaur hides and he estimates he will make about $20,000 a month from running this virtual service.

Could you just imagine if World of Warcraft decided to start selling loot and land directly to players? Azuroth would probably have Gross National Product higher than 95% of the world's countries. Ah, the future is fun.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 02:00 AM | Comments (12) | Posted to Culture | MMORPG | PC | Add this story to


Man, I think this game needs some looking into. I'm going to see what's going on with it.
Not because of the money deal -- but if people are actually so into it that there is actual value in virtual property...

Curious. Very curious.

Posted by Gauphastus at November 10, 2005 04:16 AM

So, this raises a question... income taxes... real ones... at $20,000 a month, I think the IRS would take notice. Do you think someone will come up with a 'Flag of Convenience' for this kind of thing?


Posted by Legodragonxp at November 10, 2005 09:04 AM

Very weird... if it's a big deal... that means with proper work ethics... I could start making a living on MMOs? Oh good god, my wife would kill me... but for once I'd have a reason to tell her why I've been playing for 8 hrs.

"Honey, I'm working. If I don't play, we don't eat."

Posted by Bildo at November 10, 2005 09:05 AM

I wish I could conjure up the initial investment money...

Posted by TheShark at November 10, 2005 10:23 AM

The reason why these things make actual money, is because you convert your real money into the world's money. Not like WoW or everquest, where you can buy platinum off certain sites, but actually how you get money in the game. They market it as a money exchange between your currency, and the PED.

So players buy land and basically become part of the game developers. They now get a piece of the pie of the other players.

The guy who bought the space station is going to make quite a bit of money. I just have to wonder for how long the game will keep it up though. Next I'm sure you'll hear about a planet being sold in the world for a million dollars.

But the game itself is free. Just go to the project entropia website and download it.

Posted by EQbeastlord at November 10, 2005 11:27 AM

I use to play this, but I got bored and it was incredibly laggy/buggy then. But for someone who didn't put money in, I made 50 bucks.

Posted by Twiggs at November 10, 2005 01:00 PM

When they can digitize consciousness

then things will get really interesting.

Posted by Gregg at November 10, 2005 04:05 PM

This is very interesting... Though I wonder, wouldn't the game start to lose money due to people starting off with no donation and hunting/sweating in the game to get profit?

Or would the people paying for stuff outway the loss to "free-start" players?

Posted by Gins at November 11, 2005 09:26 PM

Well, I've played for a couple hours now. I have 1.91 CED and a bottle of sweat.. that I can't seem to sell to anyone. I got the money by teaming with a few people to be a 'decoy'. I'm getting the hang of the controls... I'm just not sure that this will keep my interest for very long (I guess I'd rather put my money to ther games)


Posted by Legodragonxp at November 11, 2005 09:49 PM

To answer a question earlier in this thread, people have careers playing only MMOG's full time. Some just sell the rares or levelled-up characters. Some rent the characters out. And then there are the professional gamers in Korea and Japan that are sponsored by corporations like Nascar does. (I have to mention that most of my information comes from the Gaming Steve podcasts)

Even though money is traded in for in-game money for a "real economy," it has the same flaw as any economy: it can go bust. Because it isn't a real world, it's a lot more volatile than a real economy. That's just my caveat emptor speech. Also, you really have to count any MMORPG as a "real economy" because money was traded for the game time, and game time can yield money back when selling items. Of course, its not a real economy when no one will buy anything in the game. Oops, I repeated the caveat emptor.

Posted by Robb at November 11, 2005 10:09 PM

I wondered into Deathifier's mansion on the island (not knowing what it was). He said "hey, what are you doing in my house." After I said "this is your house?," he offered me a tour of it.

Posted by johninthebox at December 1, 2005 07:37 PM

I've been playing PE for around 6 weeks. Yes you can get started without putting any real money into the game, but it's not easy. It takes a lot of tedious work sweating the mobs in game and selling that sweat for as much as you can. The game is basically designed so that in order to get a good start quickly you need to put a little cash in. It doesn't require much. I've put in a total of $35, which is less than what many games cost. That translates into 350 PED minus the small fee they take for exchanging USD into PED. That PED has allowed me to get a much quicker start than if I hadn't put anything in at all. I've done a lot of buying and selling and killing of mobs, I know I could turn around and get that money back out later on. The economy in game is such that it encourages deposit and makes it very easy. I get the feeling a lot of people spend a lot of real money. A lot more than they would for a regular game you purchase off the shelf at Best Buy.
The vast majority of those that play are from Europe. I do run into other US players once in awhile, but most of the people in my "Society" are from Holland, Germany, France, etc. It's interesting.
Anyway, that's my 2 cents on the subject. I think the game will be around for quite some time.

Posted by Dave at January 5, 2006 10:06 AM