Club Neverdie [Updated from a previous story]
Think the rent is, in fact, too damn high? Then stay as far away from online world Entropia Universe as possible, because its real estate prices will drive you insane.
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.
Related: Game sets new one-day sales record
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.
Entropia's users have made headlines before. Just last year, fellow Entropia player Buzz "Erik" Lightyear purchased an in-game space station for $330,000, making it the most expensive virtual item in the world.
Though its exorbitant real estate transactions have earned it headlines, Entropia is otherwise similiar in form and function to massively-multiplayer games like World of Warcraft. Set in a sci-fi future, the game casts players as colonists who must fight creatures, collect and trade precious materials, and explore planets. Currently, Entropia is experiencing a 'Harbinger Event' whose outcome will be dictated entirely by its players.