#2. The Nest Egg (Entropia Universe)
Most MMORPGs ban the sale of in-game currency, leading to a shady market in illegal cash. MindArk realized that just means other people get the money and fixed the hell out of that. Project Entropia Dollars (PED) can be exchanged for real actual dollars at a rate of 10:1, and prove that English has serious problems with what it capitalizes.
"You're saying we invented a fake country with real money and WON'T be arrested?"
This real economy has led to some of the most spectacular purchases in gaming history, including the Crystal Palace space station by one player for a third of a million real dollars, and the Asteroid Space Resort in multiple portions for twice as much. Those aren't on this list, because they were sensible investments: Crystal Palace has already paid for itself, and both are constant sources of taxation income. Unlike the Atrox Queen Egg, a virtual paperweight in a world without paper that cost 70 grand.
I think I've seen this movie.
The egg resulted from an in-game storyline to hunt powerful Atrox, which are crosses between T. rexes and "coming up with stupider but barely different names to make them sound alien."
See, it has TWICE as many stupid little arms. Totally different animal.
It was first found by a player called Tzest0s, who sold it for $10,000 in 2006 and probably hasn't stopped fist-pumping yet. The alien monster egg was bought by wealthy entrepreneur John "NEVERDIE" Jacobs and proudly displayed in his space station nightclub. That's not even the plot of a horror movie, that's a horror movie parody. He nevertheless survived both doing that and being called that, selling the egg to David "Zacharum 'Deathifier' Emegen" Storey in 2010 for a profit of $60,000. He used the money to film a real music video in a roller disco. If you're noticing wire frame graphics in your peripheral vision, don't worry, that's just the borders between reality and fantasy breaking down.
"For an encore, I shall say 'There's nothing to worry about' and hold my face right over it."
New species are a major source of wealth in Entropia. The only problem is, this egg has a smaller chance of hatching into new life than a dead male robot. After eight years, that "in waiting ..." is more clearly flavor text than The Joy of Cooking. Spending six figures on it is demented, but unlike everything else on this list, it's brilliantly, gloriously demented. You might think it would be impossible for anyone to spend so much on trash for fun, as the necessary combination of reality disconnect, obscene wealth and lunacy died with Kim Jong-Il. But Deathifier isn't a lunatic blowing his life savings on trash. He's another of the Entropian elite, master of an actual Treasure Island, as in that's actually its name and its reality (it earns him $100,000 a year). It has a castle. It's a rare hunting preserve for unique species he created specifically for that purpose. And now he's using the egg as bait to organize an in-game treasure hunt and targeted extermination missions, awarding cash prizes to other players, just for fun.
He invented Chromangutangs just to kill them.
Instead of the tragedy of waste, it's Dr. Moreau-Taft standing on his castle battlements funding a space-club music producer's attempts to escape into our reality. Hell, real human nobles never dreamed of being that decadent because they didn't have William Gibson novels.
#1. Getting a Life (World of Warcraft)
Many people mock Word of Warcraft, because many people don't have an income of $100 million a month with two loyal legions the size of Norway fighting each other for profit. Never mind businesses, most regimes can't claim that.
Man, I wish I had some night elves around here.
Player "Shaks" spent $9,000 on a Level 70 night elf rogue, back when that was as high as levels went, equipped with all sorts of amazing items that you either don't care about or already know.
World of Warcraft
Check out the warglaives on that!
The problem is that character sales are very banned in World of Warcraft, and a sale of this size was very guaranteed to bring press attention. "Covered by the BBC" levels of press, which is as pressed as you can get without being thrown into a printing machine by James Bond. Shaks had just committed the most visible electronic crime short of stealing someone's shades in the Matrix. He'd have more chance of getting away with standing on the White House lawn firing signal flares at the Oval Office, because the Secret Service don't actually control reality through programmed money.
That's right, we don't, citizen.
Shaks disappeared like he owed money to the Mafia and Men in Black simultaneously. Reports indicate his very brief existence had him using the character like a chimpanzee steering the starship Enterprise. He'd have demonstrated more skill if he'd webcammed himself burning $100 bills, and lasted longer. It's painful even to think about, because nine grand is way more than you need to buy a real life.
It's glorious that we've reached the level of wealth and technology to spend money on such pointless bullshit, but tragic that we actually do so. If you'd rather level up real people using real skills for real achievements, help Kiva fund microloans (there's a Cracked group). In memory of Matt, the greatest entrepreneur I've ever known.
Luke also examines The Most Amazing(ly Stupid) Spider-Man Reboots, and the targets the five assholes you see in every shooting game. He also tumbles and replies to every single tweet.