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I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island!
December 17, 2004 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island! The virtual economy gets more interesting. (More inside)
posted by malaprohibita (35 comments total)

 
Related to this post from a few months back.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:02 AM on December 17, 2004


That's just... this's just... I... I mean...

It's a hoax, right? Seriously, it's gotta be a hoax, right?
posted by soyjoy at 11:07 AM on December 17, 2004


A 22-year-old gamer has spent $26,500 (£13,700) on an island that exists only in a computer role-playing game (RPG).
The Australian gamer, known only by his gaming moniker Deathifier, bought the island in an online auction.



Hey, Dorkifier, that twenty-six grand could've bought you a cool car, or some cash to spend on nights out with an actual woman. But no, you bought virtual real estate. But then you might've had to put on your prescription pants and leave the house.
posted by jonmc at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2004


I only hope he qualifies for a good virtual rate on his virtual mortgage (it's got a be a "he", no woman would be *that* stupid).
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:13 AM on December 17, 2004


Deathifier will make money from his investment as he is able to tax other gamers who come to his virtual land to hunt or mine for gold.

Maybe he's not so dumb. I'm not familiar with this particular game, but it's got a fixed exchange rate to real currency; maybe he's looking to make a profit on it. (The only real risk is that either the game stops being popular before he makes his investment back, or that the game designers devalue his virtual real estate by making more of it.)
posted by ook at 11:19 AM on December 17, 2004


Wow, maybe I should get in touch with him, I've got a non-existent bridge over a pixelated river that I'd like to sell him.
posted by fenriq at 11:23 AM on December 17, 2004


I think you guys are being a bit hard on the guy. I mean, after all, a guy with that much imaginary property is sure to score a LOT of imaginary women.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:27 AM on December 17, 2004


The article states there are 200k users on this system.
A quick look at the Project website shows the PED as the currency; where 10 PED = 1 dollar.

With just once percent of the user population being 2000 users, he would need those 2000 users willing to cough up 13.25 apiece for him to break even.

He is selling houses, I presume he has mineral rights, and how about a castle for a week at 1000 PED. How all this gets created and who is GOD that decides he is sitting on coal and gold - no clue.

But if this is a thriving economy it may be an interesting risk. The problem I have is can't wrap my brain around the risk - it's virtual and beyond the mining for gold or starting a dot.com that I can fathom.

Very intriguing though. Not ready to call "him" nuts as I don't get it, just yet.
posted by fluffycreature at 11:30 AM on December 17, 2004


Don't be silly. He's undoubtedly loaded, and it's likely to be as enjoyable a purchase as any other. (From reading the article, I gather it could be profitable, too.) Property on an MMORPG is not necessarily an unlimited resource, and is not comparable to something I might call "virtual property" on a random server I could put on the Internet -- unless I had some success in attracting an audience.
posted by dreish at 11:34 AM on December 17, 2004


This isn't really much different than any other speculative, high-risk investment. As long as the game remains popular and people are willing to buy parts of the virtual property from him, he could stand to make a profit. Perhaps a significant profit, particularly since the in-game currency is pegged to real currency.

People make money buying and selling virtual items, and have been for years. Back when Ultima Online was the big thing, people were buying and selling "castles" for around $1,000. And you have an entire cottage industry that exchanges virtual currency for the real thing. One particularly aggressive group is Adena Inc (I belive they're Chinese) who go from game to game, farming the hell out of them and selling the goods on eBay. Apparently they're rather unpleasant and anyone who comes around them or interferes in any way with their farming, they're told to "rang rang" (f*ck off). They're pretty infamous in online gaming circles.
posted by mstefan at 11:41 AM on December 17, 2004


"Cocaine MMORPG real estate is God's way of telling you that you make too much money."
posted by briank at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2004


Back when Ultima Online was the big thing, people were buying and selling "castles" for around $1,000.

That's interesting. Do you know what ended up happening to those castles (and the people who bought them)?
posted by dreish at 11:45 AM on December 17, 2004


That's interesting. Do you know what ended up happening to those castles (and the people who bought them)?

They're probably still there (the castles), passed on or sold, from player to player. As I recall, there were two events in the game where the company probably tanked the virtual real-estate values. One was when they doubled the size of the virtual world and the other then they added a new "zone" specifically for building houses. If someone had bought a castle on spec around those times, rather than to use (for their guild or whatever), then they probably lost their real shirt on the deal.

While it can seem silly and a waste of money, I guess my position is that it's not much different than any other hobby. Some people blow a grand on virtual castles, others on golf clubs, modding their computer or whatnot. And we really don't know anything about this dude who spent the 26k. For him, that could be like you or I spending 26 bucks at the local Wal Mart. Some people are on a completely different financial plane of existance, where going out to dinner with friends, buying bottles of Cristal and racking up a $3,000 bill is par for the course.
posted by mstefan at 12:01 PM on December 17, 2004


It's no stupider than buying a NAKED WOMAN who only exists in a kind of virtual world called a PAINTING. And how many millions have people spent on those? It's a creative work that the owner gets to interact with and enjoy. Presumably, it's one of a kind. Why is it so amazing to see someone shell out to have such an experience delivered via immersive high technology instead of other media?

"But... it's inna compoota. I no unnastan."
posted by scarabic at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2004


I always thought that Entropia was an interesting idea (I tried it a couple times when it was in beta) but I never could convince myself that it would become popular enough to actually make money off of.

I guess maybe I should have got in on the ground floor.
posted by blacklite at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2004


Ah, but a painting is not a virtual world, it is an actual object.

And most importantly, I can transport it through actual space and sell it to anyone, not just subscribers.

Perhaps some day virtual object will have value, but part of the value of being virtual is the ability to replicate them for little or now cost.
posted by cptnrandy at 12:25 PM on December 17, 2004


I see two things happing as a result of the purchase:

2) Deathifier goes down in the history books as a true internet pioneer, much like Shawn Fanning of Napster fame. However, this will only be oficially noted once-

1) Deathifier is "made an example of" by the Powers That Be, much like Shawn Fanning of Napster fame.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:33 PM on December 17, 2004


Hey, Dorkifier, that twenty-six grand could've bought you a cool car, or some cash to spend on nights out with an actual woman.

A man who can drop $26,000 on a virtual island probably already has a cool car and everything else he wants.
posted by kindall at 12:35 PM on December 17, 2004


Perhaps some day virtual object will have value...

Yeah, that'll be a really strange day. I bet when virtual objects have value someone will, like, buy a virtual island for 26k and then lease property to other people. Weird.
posted by Doug at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2004


Ah, but a painting is not a virtual world, it is an actual object.

This distinction of "real object" doesn't hold up very long for a painting. Its tangible qualities aren't what you pay for. A Picasso sells for millions and the side of a crate is valueless. They both shade you from the sun. They both have markings. They're the same size. But there's something virtual, intangible, esthetic in the markings that's priceless. Similarly, this "island" is a stream of ones and zeroes, but is worth more than, say, 100,000 lines of code from some obsolete word processor. And a painting is much more easily reproduced than something like this MMORPG possession. I'm pretty sure those things are harder to copy than your friend's new CD.

Anyway, I think it's stupid to spend a lot of money on either, but I don't think this is exactly a WHOLE NEW WORLD OF STUPID, as every journalist from here to infinity likes to imply.
posted by scarabic at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2004


I haven't even heard of this game, and I'm geeky enough that I should have before this. I think risky is definitely the word for this purchase. I don't foresee this game doing well in North America. The circa 1999, crap graphics alone show that it's lagging behind its competitors here. If owning real estate is a big feature and you pay real money for it, one would hope it'd look good if nothing else. It doesn't.

Everquest, which has been the most successful game in the MMORPG genre is around eight years old, and will probably be a total ghost town in a year or two. Unless it gets substantial support from somewhere else in the world, I can't imagine that Project Entropia will last longer than three, with maybe one year that it has a decent sized player base. Seems unlikely our investor will get anywhere near his money's worth.

But then again, this smacks of a publicity stunt by the developers, so I wonder how much truth there is to it.
posted by picea at 1:30 PM on December 17, 2004


Earlier this year economists calculated that these massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) have a gross economic impact equivalent to the GDP of the African nation of Namibia.

won't anyone think of Namibia?
posted by NationalKato at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2004


I'm not sure why "going out with an actual woman" is even a part of this discussion.
posted by trey at 1:39 PM on December 17, 2004


I'm not sure why "going out with an actual woman" is even a part of this discussion.

because different = bad, and if you're straight, then different = gay or not cool enough to get laid.

i'm sure this guy has plenty of money to spend on dates with actual women, if that's what he wants.

i glad he didn't waste $26K on a "cool car." i agree with it's better than a lot of other stupid luxury purchases.

i haven't even heard of this game, and i'm geeky enough that i should have before this. i think risky is definitely the word for this purchase. i don't foresee this game doing well in north america.

it's a pretty new game, and North America doesn't matter so much yet.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2004


i agree with dreish and scarabic, mostly.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:26 PM on December 17, 2004


I'm not sure why "going out with an actual woman" is even a part of this discussion.

It's the default joke in this situation. It's as if there's a book of easy, lame jokes somewhere. Geek/gamer cross references with virgin and living in parent's basement.
posted by Doug at 2:38 PM on December 17, 2004


***invading forces from Halo are preparing***
posted by alteredcarbon at 3:14 PM on December 17, 2004


I'd just like to thank this guy for raising the bar on ultimate geekdom.
posted by Busithoth at 3:15 PM on December 17, 2004


I'd just like to thank jonmc for the phrase "prescription pants."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:39 PM on December 17, 2004


This is not stupid. It is, however, very risky. I knew a guy who made a very good RL living for two years farming Everquest.
posted by rushmc at 4:56 PM on December 17, 2004


And many people who "play" the stock market are investing in a world considerably more "virtual" than a well-established game economy (which this particular one may or may not be). That hasn't stopped millions of people from doing it (and often losing their shirts).
posted by rushmc at 4:58 PM on December 17, 2004


I stole it from Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons, SL of G. But it seemed appropriate here.
posted by jonmc at 6:39 PM on December 17, 2004


Perhaps some day virtual objects will have value

Money is virtual.
posted by stbalbach at 3:45 AM on December 18, 2004


Perhaps some day virtual objects will have value

Shhh. Nobody mention derivatives trading.

Next we'll be seeing people trading options in futures on farming on real estate in a virtual world.
posted by snarfodox at 7:33 AM on December 18, 2004


Perhaps some day virtual objects will have value..

Yes, this made me laugh too. The global economy is wholly based on virtual objects that have "value"--they're called "instruments" for some strange reason.

MMORPGs are interesting but I don't see the long-term profit potential for anybody but the developers. While they exhibit the same exponential networking laws as sites like eBay and Amazon, they are ultimately games and thus there's a shelf-life. This kind of speculation on virtual property could never be a true market--at best you might see a rapid boom/bust common to many goldrushes.

Cheers to this guy though. I hope he makes a million dollars off this purchase. What a great story; "I made my first million of an imagine island, son... yup, everybody thought I was crazy then tooo..."
posted by nixerman at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2004


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