What Your Real Money Buys You in the Gaming World

If you have $100, you can put it in the bank. Or you can change it into virtual currency to enhance your favorite game experience with an epic mount, crew members for your starship, or a buddy for Batman.

Cash for (Virtual) Gold

In the real world, $100 might get you close to buying an Amazon Kindle with ads or the final edition of the Flip MinoHD camcorder. For thrifty shoppers who play massive multiplayer online games (MMOs), however, that money can go much further.

Though many games don't let you trade real-world money for in-game currency, there's a $3 billion dollar a year third-party economy of gold farmers ready to sell you virtual gold.

We checked a virtual currency exchange to find out what $100 can buy in the currency of games like World of Warcraft and Eve Online. Let's see what the best deals are in dragons, spaceships, or magic armor.

Trion Worlds Rift: $100 Equals 200 Platinum or an Epic Mount

Most MMOs make you run from one place to another, so the most prized items are those that let you get around faster. Fantasy games like Rift achieve this through some sort of mount that you can ride. And in Rift, game, $100 buys you this Swift Valmera (a kind of horned lion).

Check out Rift.

Cryptic Star Trek Online: $100 Equals 60 Million Credits or 20 Crew Members

For a game set in a future utopia that has advanced beyond money, stuff sure is expensive in Star Trek Online. You have to pay for ships, upgrades, weapons, and even your crew. For about $5, you can grab a high-quality recruit--so on our budget, we could buy a great crew for our own version of the Enterprise.

Check out Star Trek Online.

Blizzard World of Warcraft : $100 Equals 35,000 Gold or a Sandstone Drake Mount

Some thrifty shopping and 35,000 Gold will fetch you the Vial of the Sands, currently the most sought-after flying mount in the World of Warcraft or WoW. Why is it so highly valued? It's one of only two flying mounts that lets you carry a passenger. The other (in a brilliant bit of marketing) requires you to recruit a friend to join the game.

Check out WoW.

Square/Enix Final Fantasy XI: $100 Equals 4 Million Gil or a Tricked-Out Apartment

In Final Fantasy XI, your character can have hisor her own virtual place to live. The game even encourages you to buy virtual furniture for your domicile. This interior design aspect can yield real benefits to your character, but it also makes your place seem homey.

Check out Final Fantasy XI.

NCsoft Aion: $100 Equals 75 Million Kinah or Expert Noble Sobi Gear

Aion may not be the most popular MMO on the market, but it certainly is pretty. If you're looking to make your character look even better, you can use your $100 to buy you some Expert Noble Sobi gear. As you can tell from all the honorifics, it ranks among the best armor in the game.

Check out Aion.

Sony EverQuest II: $100 Equals 750 Platinum or Eight Sets of Armor

You can purchase Platinum in EverQuest II, but you're just as well off going straight to the source. Sony sells EQII items in its own Station Cash currency; $100 bucks converts into 100,000 Station Cash, which is enough to pay for about 8 sets of armor. Or it will once EverQuest's site is back online.

Check out EverQuest II.

Sony DC Universe Online: $100 Equals 250,000 Cash or You Can Buy Batman a Pal

As a relatively young MMO, the superhero-based DC Universe Online doesn't yet have a lot of items to buy. So why not go ahead and purchase a high-level character to hang with Batman? (There are sites that save you time by playing a character for you so you can have all the glory without the work.)

Check out DC Universe Online.

Zynga FarmVille: $100 Equals 600 FarmVille Bucks or 30 Mystery Crates

FarmVille is the most profitable MMO on earth--and not just because everybody and their mother (mostly their mother) plays it on Facebook. FarmVille also makes it easy to pay real money for virtual items like this mystery crate, which might yield a rare animal...or might not. You'll have to pony up FarmVille Bucks to find out.

Check out FarmVille.

CCP Games Eve Online: $100 Equals 3.5 Billion ISK or Four Thanatos Carriers

Space simulator Eve Online will let you buy four of these hot Thanatos Carriers for about 100 bucks but, interestingly, Eve also lets you buy game time with the games ISK currency. At $100 dollars, the nine months of game time that your 3.5 billion ISK would buy is actually a slightly better deal than you'd by get paying for a subscription directly.

Check out Eve Online.

Linden Research Second Life: $100 Equals 1/10th of a Moonbase

Like FarmVille, Second Life lets you buy from the game's site directly, but in Second Life you buy real estate. Our favorite is the $1000 high-tech Moonbase, but watch out. As with any other type of real estate, the upkeep can kill you. The game charges $300 a month just to keep your space house running.

Check out Second Life.

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