The world’s most expensive virtual island

Think you’ve already squandered a lot of money playing computer games? Think again.

David Storey, a 27-year-old graduate student living in Sydney, Australia, earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records after paying $26,500 (roughly P1.2 million) for an island—a virtual one in the videogame world of Entropia.

And before you dismiss him as just another geek gone crazy, note that the property that he called Amethera Treasure Island earns him more than $100,000 in real money per year thanks to the taxes he collects from players visiting his virtual paradise.

“I thought it would be cool to own an island, and I knew I could run it and be able to pay for my play” says Storey, adding that he has picked up skills he never imagined learning from a game. “Entropia continually evolves, so you have to constantly be watching for new developments. It’s sort of like real life.”

While Storey’s tale might be a rarity, the economy of buying and selling virtual goods in videogames is becoming quite common. In the US alone, the virtual economy is expected to reach $1.6 billion this year up from $1 billion in 2009, according to Inside Networks. The worldwide market is estimated at already $10 billion with China and Korea being the major players.

While the beginnings of the virtual goods economy can be traced from massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like Entropia and Second Life, social games like FarmVille and Pet Society are fast becoming a big part of this kind of virtual transactions as well. And though a fairly successful social game might have average revenues of a dollar or two per user it is the sheer number of players that make it profitable. Inside Virtual Goods Analyst Charles Hudson explained that the most successful social games can have 10 to 20 times the number of users of virtual worlds or MMORPGs. For example, World of Warcraft, a popular MMORPG, has more than 10 million monthly subscribers. FarmVille has some 76 million active monthly users due to its popularity on Facebook. “Instead of getting people to come where the game is at [as in MMORPGs], you put the game where people are.”

This is the reason why some MMORPGs, like Second Life, are also trying to integrate their games with social networking sites like Facebook.


Sonic Room

While the career of the once mighty Sonic has plummeted at Hedgehog speeds, no thanks to a slew of terrible titles, the longtime Sega mascot gets another chance at glory after being immortalized in his own hotel suite.

According to Girl Gamers UK, the Alton Towers Resort created a Sonic the Hedgehog themed room to coincide with the debut of the Sonic Spinball roller-coaster. As you would expect, the room is jam-packed with Sonic goodness, including Sonic sound effects, wallpaper based on the famous Green Zone level, loads of gold rings, and a couple game systems featuring Sonic videogames. The room’s bed even has a gold Sonic ring while the bathroom has Sonic, Tails and Knuckles plush toys.

The Sonic room is just one of 12-themed suites that likewise includes the Sleepover Room, Peter Rabbit Room, Benjamin Bunny, Celebration; Chocolate; Arabian Nights; Big Pyjama; The Imperial Room; and Tatty Teddy.


Ubisoft’s new anti piracy scheme

Call it outrageous, call it weird, but one thing is for sure, game maker Ubisoft looks to be real serious about preventing you from playing pirated games. Beginning next month, when Assassins’ Creed 2 and Settlers VII debuts on the PC Ubisoft will require a constant, uninterrupted Internet connection to play—regardless of whether or not you’re using any online functions to constantly check if you are playing a pirated copy of the game or not. This new technology doesn’t just require an initial online check-in like many current PC games, now without a live Internet link, you won’t even be able to start the game, and if your connection drops while you’re playing for any reason, not only would you not be able to continue, you’ll likely lose all those unsaved progress as well.

One gaming journalist recounted his experience of trying to launch the game offline, and said an error message immediately popped up. He said he also tried playing the game while online and deliberately unplugged his net cable to simulate a temporary loss of connection and the result was even more frustrating as the game stopped and he was dumped back to a menu screen— losing all his unsaved progress. And what’s worse is that even if it’s Ubisoft’s servers that go down or are unreachable, every single player of the game may get dumped and will not be able to resume their game until the problem is resolved.

Unfortunately, despite these strict measures being done by the game publishers, it is still the legitimate customers that are often affected as illegally downloaded versions of games generally have copy-protection methods like this removed entirely.


Classic Nintendo sells for $13,105

One man’s trash is truly another one’s treasure and in this case, the so-called trash turned out to be worth $13,000 (or almost P600,000). Last week, a North Carolina eBay user named lace_thongs35 put an 80s-era Nintendo Entertainment System (together with five games) up on eBay, hoping to get rid of the old gaming system. Less than an hour later, however, the bid price already reached $6,000 before finally closing at $13,000.

No, it wasn’t a gold edition NES, in fact it wasn’t the console itself that made it so valuable, instead it was one of the bundled games that came with it—a rare 1987 release called Stadium Events. The game wasn’t a classic or even a good one, but what made it worth the money was the original cardboard box, which collectors value at a whopping $10,000. Fewer than 10 complete copies of the game are thought to exist, and retro gaming aficionados consider it one of the hardest-to-find NES games ever made.


Street Fighter invades the itouch and iPhone
After testing the limits of controllers and arcade sticks, Capcom is about to check the toughness of your
Apple device as it unleashes Street Fighter IV on the iPhone and iTouch. The company said it would be an “uncompromised” version of Street Fighter IV, with “a roster pulled from recent console releases, including several classic and newly introduced fighters.

The game will include a simplified control scheme with a virtual joystick and four attack buttons displayed on the screen and players will be able to customize the layout of controls, repositioning them on the screen and adjusting their transparency as needed.

A Kitty Kawaii Valentine