C-Net has an article on John Jacobs, who recently bought a large space station in the game Project Entropia for $100,000. This is a perfect example of how virtual world economies are gaining traction. There is real world money to be made and the line between real and virtual economies is beginning to blur.
More important are the legal issues that surround virtual land ownership, intellectual property rights, and taxation issues that could come from expansive economic development in virtual worlds. As an entrepreneur Jacobs is addressing a very real need of people - a virtual 'game preserve' where users can hunt monsters, and store their gains. The community building that takes place in these preserves may be incidental but it could be telling of how human recreation could shift more to the great indoors.
The purchase and business venture are of minor consequence currently. I reckon them to the first sandwich. Everyone is going to have one sooner or later but the novelty of the first one is impressive. Sadly, John Jacobs is not the first virtual land baron, or the first person to plunk down monster cash for land. Residents in other virtual worlds drop sizable amounts of money into real estate, and currency speculation daily. The novelty is that there are so few of them. The biggest question to ask is if there is enough usage to support a mass entry of entrepreneurs? My feeling is that as the worlds grow so will the business opportunities in direct proportions.
As posted on Community Mobilization.