Back in 2005, many virtual eyebrows were raised when Jon Jacobs spent $100,000 in real money to buy a space resort in the Entropia Universe virtual world. Now, it’s Jacobs laughing all the way to the bank: five years later, he’s sold the virtual property—now called Club Neverdie—in a series of transactions totaling up to $635,000, setting a new record for the sale of virtual goods.
The largest single transaction in the sale was to John Foma Kalun, who paid some $335,000 for a main section of the asteroid. The sale of that one piece—not to mention all the others domes and sections on the virtual asteroid—tops the previous record-holder for a virtual goods sale, the Crystal Palace Station, which sold for $300,000 last year. It’s also in the Entropia Universe.
According to Jacobs, his original $100,000 purchase of the asteroid was far from folly: Jacobs was already a celebrity within the Entropia world, and was able to convert the virtual asteroid into a thriving business. Jacobs says the club operated at a profit from the outset, earning $50,000 back in just its first five months of operation, and generating about $200,000 a year in profit.
“Casual online games and micro transactions have exploded in the last couple of years with the combination of social networking sites like Facebook and games like Farmville, but these online communities don’t provide opportunities for individuals to earn meaningful income in the same way that a deeply immersive virtual world or an MMO where the virtual items have an intrinsic value can,” Jacobs said in a statement. “As soon as the Facebook generation wake up and embrace virtual reality, we are going to see a giant wave of virtual world millionaires.”
Entropia Universe is an online virtual world platform operated by Sweden’s MindArk. MindArk was recently granted permission to operate as a bank; the Entropia Universe will also play host to a forthcoming “Planet Michael” virtual world based on Michael Jackson.
Jacobs has also launched his own music-themed virtual planet within Entropia Universe, dubbed Rocktopia.