Virtual Online World Gets Link to Real Cash Machines

Who said you can't make any money playing video games?

The makers of the online sci-fi game "Entropia Universe" have come up with a way to let players withdraw the virtual cash they've amassed in the game as real money from select ATM machines.

The game's 400,000 registered users will be eligible to obtain a bank card from "Entropia Universe" maker MindArk PE AB of Sweden.

With the card, players can view their virtual currency — called Project Entropia dollars — at select Versatel cash machines around the world.

And since PED are convertible to real-world dollars at a fixed exchange rate, gamers could also withdrawal real money, MindArk chief executive Jan Welter said.

"The ATM system is a crucial and significant element in the true monetization of virtual currency, by supporting instant and convenient conversion to real cash," Welter said in a statement.

"Entropia Universe" is the same game where some players have spent thousands of real dollars to acquire virtual property. In one case, a Miami resident recently spent $100,000 for his very own space station.

These players, in turn, have reaped the benefits by charging others to mine for ore, hunt for monsters or rent out buildings on their land.

Most persistent online games, including "World of Warcraft," actively discourage the practice and routinely ban users caught selling and buying items for money.

Last year, Sony Online Entertainment Inc. reversed a long-standing ban on such sales in "EverQuest II" and created an auction site where players can pay cash to buy better virtual swords, armor or other items.