Entropia Universe

Gamers used to invest just quarters to take a trip into a virtual fantasy land. However, with modern day advances, video game developer MindArk is looking to up the ante with their online experience, “Entropia Universe.”

“Entropia Universe” is a virtual game played online that allows users to play in a virtual world and accumulate property and money that can later be transferred to real money.

“Entropia Universe” is considered a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG).

All the players have to do is create an avatar to represent them, go into the universe and interact with others. The selling point of the game comes from the player’s ability to take out real cash from virtual real estate.

John Bates, the marketing manager for Mindark, said the game isn’t like others.

“We created a universe that’s changing the model of the typical online game,” Bates said. “Instead of paying to play, you come in, play for free and you choose to spend your money or your time to get the most out of it.”

“Entropia Universe” is a relatively young gaming network, Since its inception in 2003. Bates said the game already has a strong community of 782,000 players, 100,000 of whom are active members of the game.

Players seem to be devoted to the game, preferring the less demanding, non-subscription model of “Entropia Universe” to the other online games like the popular “World of Warcraft” that require a monthly $50 payment to remain active.

Despite waiving a monthly fee, MindArk is still seeing profit from inline activity. Bates said after going live in 2003, MindArk began generating profits in 2004, stemming from in-game clients who may not have the time to become dominant players in the game, but certainly have the money.

“We aren’t running a charity,” Bates said. “We’re just making sure we can cater to the hardcore player who can spend his time to enjoy the game, while at the same time satisfying the businessman who has the money and wants to have some fun.”

Even those who aren’t “hardcore gamers” find the idea of making money while playing a game intriguing.

Darryl McGowan, 18, freshman a jazz student at Florida A&M University, said he can see himself putting in some time with the game if it means a cash reward in the end.

“I’d definitely give it a try if I knew exactly how to play,” said McGowan, a native of Chicago. “Real money out of a video game sounds like a great idea.”

For more information on “Entropia Universe,” and for information on how to join the universe, visit www.entropiauniverse.com.