Quit Your Job! Virtual Item Sales Is Where It's At!

Does this make me look fat?

You're doing it all wrong. Seriously, you are doing it all wrong. You drag your sorry butt out of bed every morning to work your 9 to 5 job. You make a living, but you wonder why you have to work so hard to get it. It's time to make the move to selling ... nothing.

Virtual item sales. We all know about them. It's when someone ponies up real money to buy an in game item to bolster their character or standing in the game. On the surface it sounds like something only a few people would do, but the worldwide virtual items market is pulling in over 8 billion dollars annually. That's more than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many small countries.

Virtual items are, well, nothing. They are just an organized conglomeration of bits on a computer hard disk somewhere that when run through the right software turn into awesome sauce for a gamer. When you purchase a virtual, in-game item you are shelling out your hard earned cash for nothing tangible. If the game goes away, all you are left with is a few screenshots (if you took any) of your phat lewts, fond memories and late night stories at the pub no one else believes anyway.

The fact that these items are not a tangible asset does not deter people from spending inordinate amounts of money on said items. Blizzard decided it would be a worthwhile effort to make a spectral horsie (called the Celestial Steed) for the World of Warcraft players. At the cost of $25 it seemed rather expensive. A couple of hours after its release, there were in excess of 80,000 people in the queue to get one, and at one point the queue topped 140,000 people. Blizzard made millions of dollars. KaChing!! Taking a cut of the profits made in the real money auction house in Diablo III isn't exactly causing them pain either. Don't beat up on Blizzard, though, as they have made virtual items and have given the proceeds to worthwhile charities, too.

One of my favorite stories comes from a game called Entropia Universe. A British gentleman took out a mortgage on his house and bought an in-game asteroid for a mere £62,000 ($100,000). After adding various attractions to his land holdings, like a stadium, shopping center and nightclub, he was earning approximately £124,000 ($200,000) a year from players using his services. He eventually sold the nightclub for a stunning £399,000 ($644,600) to an unnamed buyer. This sale, by the way, is the largest known amount ever spent on a virtual item.

Recently, Valve has opened its Community Market where people can sell in-game items for real cash. The fact that these markets are successful says that many people are willing to spend their monies on items that they either can't get, or don't have the time to get, while playing in the games. This is not all that surprising when many people work long hours at their real job and want to be able to compete in a game they simply do not have the time to grind through to get those items.

So, are you tired of the daily grind? Ready to toss all caution to the wind and go for the gold? I've been in the IT industry for 30 years and every day when I hunt down news for my loyal readers (that would be you) I keep getting reminded that I'm working harder and longer in my "Golden Years" than ever before.

No ... I'm not complaining. Would you like to buy some WoW gold?

Thanks again for taking the time to put up with enjoy my Friday Night Editorial, and thanks to AphexDreamer on our sister site TechPowerUp for getting the little hamster wheels moving in my brain for this one.