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Well, at least the 'virtual' real estate market is booming ....

Posted by: Peter Coy on August 8, 2006

Feeling grumpy that the real estate market slumped right after you bought, or just before you sold? Here’s some news that should cheer you up right away. Sales of virtual real estate in cyberspace are doing very nicely.secondlife.jpg Participants in the virtual world created by Entropia Universe spent more than $200,000 of real money in July to buy imaginary rainforests, snow-covered mountains, riverfront estates, and more. In an Aug. 7 press release, Jan Welter, CEO of MindArk, developer of Entropia Universe, calls it a “virtual property boom.” Another imaginary world called Second Life saw real estate sales of over $660,000 in July, according to my colleague Rob Hof, who wrote a May 1 cover story about Second Life and its ilk.
The dollar figures quoted here are based on the going exchange rate for the play money used in the games. According to Rob Hof’s story, one gaming services firm estimates that players spent about $1 billion in real money last year on virtual goods and services in all of the online games combined.
Look at this way. Let’s say you lose your job, can’t pay the mortgage, get thrown out on the street, and wind up living in a cardboard box. Not a great situation. But you could still have quite a real estate empire in the virtual world. Even if you don’t have a roof over your head, your online avatar could be sitting pretty. So stop being so grumpy.

Reader Comments

Virtual Property Owner

August 9, 2006 6:50 AM

I wouldn't be so enthusiastic Peter, take for example this section of MindArk's Entropia Universe EULA:


7. Ownership
The System, including, but not limited to, computer code, text, graphics, audio files, logos, button icons, images, characters, items, concepts, data compilation and software, is the property of MindArk and protected by Swedish and international copyright laws.

MindArk, MindArk PE, Project Entropia, Entropia Universe and other marks indicated on the Entropia Universe’s website are registered trademarks of MindArk in Sweden. Any Entropia Universe design and any other MindArk graphics, logos or button icons are trademarks of MindArk.

Virtual items will often have names similar or identical to corresponding physical categories such as "people," "real estate," "possessions," and the names of specific items in those categories such as "house," "rifle," "tools," "armor," etc. Despite the similar names, all virtual items are part of the System and MindArk retains all rights, title, and interest in all parts including, but not limited to Avatars and Virtual Items; these retained rights include, without limitation, patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and other proprietary rights throughout the world.

As part of your interactions with the System, you may acquire, create, design, or modify Virtual Items, but you agree that you will not gain any ownership interest whatsoever in any Virtual Item, and you hereby assign to MindArk all of your rights, title and interest in any such Virtual Item.

You hereby grant MindArk the worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, right to exercise all intellectual property rights for any content you may upload to the Entropia universe, including, but not limited to, user-to-user communications.


So we don't "own" the right to anything after all, we just pay a nice sum of cash to a software company to pretend we do.

I think it's about time that real world law finally caught up with the virtual world and made such content providers accountable.

JaRo - RoHuGu


August 9, 2006 9:37 AM

Most meaningless thing i've read in quite a while. first blog i've read, and the last.


August 9, 2006 11:30 AM

It's a sad state of affairs when people move into virtual reality worlds at the expense of their physical realities. Oh well, maybe I can finally buy that Corvette I've been wanting.


August 9, 2006 3:35 PM

Disappoiting article. Makes no sense...

Steve Adler

August 9, 2006 6:23 PM

And they said it couldn't be done - while everyone else is cutting jobs, somehow New Century is thriving - profits up 11%! I hope your readers are aware of it! Take that, ACORN!


August 10, 2006 6:10 AM

JaRo, you don't seem to understand. You own the VALUE of the virtual items, but the actual items, as they are in the Mindark database somewhere. This is also shown in the EULA, if you bothered reading it all. Of course you can make a text appear a certain way when you only show a small piece.


August 15, 2006 10:56 PM

Let's not forget the poor investors that were duped into investing into this venture. My elderly parents invested over $xxx,xxx. and have received no revenues for the past two years. This happens when people are elderly and get taken to the cleaners. As exectutor of the estate it has been a nightmare. So the investors are not being paid! I would love suggestions on how to solve this problem. They also will not give you the names of any of the investors so that you can communicate. Are there any other investors out there? Let's communicate here.

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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