Significant events and virtual property sales

On 14 December 2004, the game creators MindArk announced the conclusion of the first "Treasure Island Sale". This was a virtual island put up for auction. The winning bidder, an avatar named Zachurm "Deathifier" Emegen, paid 265,000 PED (US$26,500) for the island. At the time this was the highest price ever paid for a virtual item. According to the press release, it is "a large island off a newly discovered continent surrounded by deep creature infested waters. The island boasts beautiful beaches ripe for developing beachfront property, an old volcano with rumors of fierce creatures within, the outback is overrun with mutants, and an area with a high concentration of robotic miners guarded by heavily armed assault robots indicates interesting mining opportunities."[13]
On 24 October 2005, a virtual 'Asteroid Space Resort' was bought by Jon "Neverdie" Jacobs for a sum of 1,000,000 PED (US$100,000), greatly surpassing the sale of Treasure Island. Jon Jacobs is also the writer and producer of a song played within the Entropia Universe called "Gamer Chick". The Asteroid was named Club NEVERDIE after Jacobs's own in game Avatar and has made headlines around the world for the high price of the purchase and his own ambitious plans to turn the resort into a venue for "Live Entertainment in Virtual Reality".[14]
On 9 November 2005, the BBC reported that "Deathifier" had recouped his investment in under a year. He made money by selling virtual homes as well as taxing other gamers to hunt or mine on the island. "The money made to date is only a taste of what can be achieved with my virtual island purchase," said Deathifier.[15]
On 2 May 2006, MindArk announced the introduction of an ATM card enabling players to withdraw the real-world currency equivalent of their PED funds directly from any real-world Versatel ATM machines. As reported on the BBC newsfeed users could sell virtual items online and then go purchase a dinner for themselves down the street in real life with this cash card technology. It was stated that $165 million had "passed through the game" in 2005 and that this figure was expected to double in 2006.[16]
On 7 August 2006, Entropia Universe announced the final sale prices from its July 2006 virtual real estate public auction totalling over US$200,000. The auction began on 5 July 2006 with an opening release of six new land areas full of hunting and mineral rights and closed late July with a total of thirteen properties sold. The various virtual land masses including remote snow covered mountains, riverfront estates, vast rainforests and jungles, lake homes and more sold for a combined US$213,784.00.[17]
Jon Jacobs, the gamer who runs Club NEVERDIE, announced profits of $100,000 USD in August, 2006. Club NEVERDIE is a virtual resort that was established in December 2005. The revenue was generated from hunting and mining taxes, and sales of virtual apartments and shops.[18] In July, Jacobs had purchased a virtual item (a "Unique Green Atrox Queen Egg") for $10,000 through auction.[19]
Mike Everest, a home-schooled high school senior from Durango, Colorado, and his mother earned $35,000 in 2006 by constructing and selling weapons in Entropia. Of this, $12,000 will be used as college funds for his siblings. Everest spent an average of three hours per day playing the game and intended to continue playing to fund his own college education.[20]
On 17 October 2006, MindArk announced that Entropia Universe had achieved the milestone of over 500,000 registered users. "The growth of Entropia Universe is an enormous achievement for us and the members," said Jan Welter, CEO of MindArk, developer of Entropia Universe. "As the world of video games evolves to become more than just a means of two-dimensional entertainment, we are seeing a demand for the integration of real-world features in virtual environments. Individuals are joining the Entropia Universe community to interact, meet new people, learn new ideas, reach entrepreneurial aspirations, create societies and even foster new relationships in everyday reality."[21]
On 8 May 2007, MindArk announced the long-awaited results of the world's first virtual Banking License auction. After months of active bidding the five licenses sold for an astounding total of US$404,000 to a mix of real world banks, Entropia celebrities, and entrepreneurs, all seeking to invest in the virtual realm. Up for sale since January 2007, these two-year exclusive licenses aim to integrate real world banking systems into Entropia Universe. [8]
The winners were:
• Avatar “Janus JD D'Arcwire”, representing Wirecard Bank AG, who paid US$59,060.[22][23]
• Russian Internet Payment Provider, with avatar “Yuri iNTellect Efremov” who paid US$99,900.
• Entropia celebrity and famed virtual night club owner “Jon NEVERDIE Jacobs”, who paid US$90,000.
• Famous cross-world virtual celebrity and entrepreneur Anshe Chung, who paid US$60,000.
• Avatar "Jolana Kitty Brice", an Entropia Universe participant and entrepreneur who paid US$95,000.
The virtual Entropia Universe banks will work similarly to real world banks. Initially, they will be provided with secure systems enabling them to lend money to participants and collect interest, design and name their own virtual bank building(s), utilize the extensive advertising opportunities available, and make their own personnel available through avatars that can interact with and provide service to other avatars. In order to get the virtual banks operational, each winner must also add US$100,000 as operational capital. MindArk PE AB's Business Development Director David Simmonds enthused, "We are thrilled to welcome these five new partners to Entropia Universe. As we continue to set records in the virtual realm, the next two years will be a prosperous, successful time for all parties involved." MindArk CIO Marco Behrmann added, "This further proves the Entropia concept of having a secure, reliable, and stable economic environment for doing business. The five banks will have integrated services within the mechanics of Entropia Universe and will not just be virtual advertising spots."