For the vast majority of readers here, I expect virtual economies consume very little of your meatspace money, if any at all. But some folk place a huge real-money value on intangible virtual items… via Cheryl Morgan comes news of a guy who just spuffed US$330,000 on a virtual space station in the Entropia Universe MMO:
Entropia Universe is well known for its “real cash economy,” where $1 can buy you 10 PEDs (Project Entropia dollars) in the virtual world. The Crystal Palace is a huge virtual space station that orbits the Planet Calypso.
Well the auction just ended, and one “lucky” man (Buzz “Erik” Lightyear) has just won the Crystal Palace for 3,300,000 PED. If you haven’t figured it already, that translates to $330,000 USD.
[…] the purchase may be strategic — the owner stands to make money off the shops, transactions, and activities that occur on his virtual space station. And if online gaming and virtual currency continue their growth trends in 2010, the man could potentially make his money back.
As pointed out, a purchase of that size currently screams “rich guy with money to waste on having fun”(which I can’t bring myself to begrudge entirely), especially if you look at the video clips of the space station’s interior (which looks a lot like a custom level for the Doom engine, IMHO).
But virtual economies and entirely intangible businesses haven’t gone away, despite the headlines dying off periodically… I fully expect we’ll see more of this in the year to come.