Video Game Lets Players Earn Real Dollars

ByABC News
May 2, 2006, 2:04 PM

May 2, 2006 -- -- An online computer game is blurring the already blurry line between virtual economies and actual economies in video games.

"Entropia Universe" is a world that exists entirely online and is populated with more than 400,000 registered users, all who trade real-world cash for the in-game currency, "Project Entropia Dollars" -- PEDs -- to finance their various activities.

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Now, the makers of "Entropia Universe" -- MindArk -- are allowing players to reverse the process. With the use of a real-world ATM card provided by the company, the game's inhabitants can now take money out of their "virtual" accounts in the real world.

At a fixed exchange rate of 10 PEDs = $1, a player with 5,000 PEDs can now walk up to any Versatel ATM in the world and take out $500. That's not bad considering it's a video game.

"Entropia Universe" whisks players away to the futuristic sci-fi planet of Calypso, an untamed world inhabited by wild beasts and covered in unexplored landscapes.

The game's software is free to download, and players who don't wish to get involved in the economy can stroll around, take in the scenery, or head into the wilderness to hunt, mine or participate in any number of in-game activities to improve their skills.

It's the game's economy, however, that distinguishes it from other, similar games. It's an element that even MindArk's CEO admits is hard to avoid.

"If you just want to have fun and want simply to hunt, you still earn skills and those skills are very valuable to other players," said Jan Welter Timkrans. "You can sell them for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

"Even if you go into the game and want just to have fun, you could still end up making money."

Welter Timkrans says MindArk has always seen "Entropia's" destiny as becoming more than just a computer game.

He says the game has already evolved to the point that some players make a career out of creating, buying, and selling goods, services and property on Calypso.