DISCLAIMER: The intent of this editorial is without intention to damage ROCKtropia or Next Island in any way. The author merely wants to point out that the official story as it is told by Jon "NEVERDIE" Jacobs leaves room for valid questioning as it relates to his press releases and activities. While EntropiaPlanets fully supports his virtual ventures, it’s also important that the public become aware of the known discrepancies. All quotes in the article are from original articles. This article is the work of the author alone, and should be viewed as a personal perspective that does not include or represent the opinions of others who are a part of the EntropiaPlanets staff. > - released December 6th, 2010: Never one to take claims at face value, the following statement was investigated through a Google search - "The first documented person to make a million dollars in virtual reality." Note the quotes around it to only look for the exact statement. Google No results were found for "first documented person to make a million dollars in virtual reality." Perhaps it will work without the word "documented" in it? Google Again, no concrete results. Some related links returned by Google though, make no reference to NEVERDIE, Jon Jacobs, or even Entropia Universe. What they all do show is references to Second Life and Anshe Chung. Perhaps we ought to dig a bit deeper into NEVERDIE's (the avatar) past, and see if we can find the answer there. Back in 2005, Jon "NEVERDIE" Jacobs bought the virtual nightclub "Club NEVERDIE" (CND) on Calypso for a whopping 100,000 USD, while Anshe Chung was making money dealing in Second Life real estate (that was when Second Life was still a booming business). All of that collapsed after Linden Labs, the company behind Second Life, removed explicit pornographic images/actions and gambling from the virtual world. Apparently that was what pulled in most people, as from one day to another, Second Life's popularity ebbed away to join the long list of once-was dotcoms. Before 2005, Jacobs had been somewhat of a known person in-game, mostly due to a song he wrote about his (at the time) girlfriend, the late Tina Lieu, called "Gamer Chick," which had been added to the in-game jukeboxes by MindArk, the company running Entropia Universe. Jacobs' resume states he is an actor and a musician, as well as an indie movie producer, but chances are that if you did not play Entropia Universe, you never heard any of his songs, or saw any of his movies. In early 2006, Jacobs attempted to create a name for himself as a high-profile gamer by actively seeking publicity to promote his purchase of "Club NEVERDIE." Headlines all over the world documented the purchase, so publicity was easily obtained. Jacobs appeared in numerous TV interviews and documentaries, as well as being featured on CNN and the BBC. In short, he started to build a new career around his avatar, which he later on emphasized by means of his slogan and the accompanying song "I Am My Avatar." However, with Anshe Chung’s revenues continually rising, things were looking rather bleak at the time for Jacobs. If NEVERDIE were to have any real claim to fame, something would have to be done fast, and so it was that in early 2006, Jacobs sent out press releases that his avatar NEVERDIE had become the world's first virtual millionaire. Take a minute to note the date on that article, which is May 9th, 2006. From the article: (emphasis mine). It is EXPECTED to put NEVERDIE at a 1.5m USD net worth? Expected by who was not revealed, so we will have to assume that this expectation was made by Jacobs himself. How he expected to make that money is explained a bit later in the press release: Less than 5 months, and 50,000 USD? That makes the taxation revenue about 10,000 USD per month, with additional money generated from selling off apartments and shops. What is left out of the equation is the cost-factor of running the club at the time. Especially during the first few months where Jacobs was reinvesting quite a bit of money in order to try and attract gamers to visit the club. The main instrument of choice was organizing events with big cash prizes. Maintaining 20 large domes is also bound to cost a fair share of maintenance fees in the form of fertilizer (which is an in-game resource required to sustain activity in the domes), but alas, no numbers are provided on that either. With 10,000 USD in revenue per month, it's kind of hard to imagine how the 1.5 million dollar mark could have been achieved in 12 months. However, here's NEVERDIE doing a video from E3 2006, in which he states: > For those interested, E3 2006 took place May 2006, from May 10th till May 12th. Seeing that the video was made a day before E3, that would make it the same date that the interview was published. So in the same day the interview was published in which he is quoted having made 50,000 USD, he suddenly becomes a millionaire? Unfortunately, the reporter/presenter of the video who he shares this with does not ask into the matter. This could possibly be due to the reporter being none other than Cheri London (nowadays Jacob's wife). In conclusion, one of these claims cannot possibly be true. Let's continue. And indeed, another article detailing the life of NEVERDIE from August 3rd 2006 states: And a bit further down: Adding up the numbers, 9 months of taxation yielded 90,000 USD, with an additional 100,000 USD from apartment sales, bringing the total to 190,000 USD in August 2009. Impressive, but a long shot away from the 1 million dollar mark from the video above claiming he already is a millionaire by then. Also note the August piece states he could be the world's first virtual reality millionaire. A bit later, August 21st, 2006, more press releases: Club NEVERDIE hits 100.000 USD Gross in 8 months. So the club nets 100,000 USD, but the man owning it somehow is estimated (again, by whom is nowhere mentioned) to be worth 1 million USD. Again, no references to who estimates this worth, or what it is based on. Not even a mention that the 1 million dollars is the amount he could feasibly pull out at any given moment (i.e. liquid assets). Fast forward to November 2006 where there are headlines all over the world again about the world’s first virtual millionaire being revealed. Unfortunately though, it turns out it is not NEVERDIE, but Anshe Chung. There's also a breakdown of exactly how Anshe's fortune was acquired in her press release: No "estimated" or "expected" there. No speculation, but numbers and assets are mentioned. In fact, while Googling for "first virtual millionaire," almost all of the results refer to Anshe Chung. There was no mention of Jacobs anywhere in the first ten results. Number twenty in the search links to the earlier press release from May 6th, and the remainder of the first 50 results, does not seem to refer to Jacobs at all. (Your local search results may vary.) first virtual millionaire - Google Search All in all, the statement made by Jacobs in his docudrama (as well as almost every subsequent press release sent out by Jacobs, and the E3 2006 video) turns out not to be entirely true. He might be the first documented person, if you go purely by the press release he sent out himself, or his own statements, but there is no documented basis for his claim, other than his own estimates, expectations, and none of it is backed by any real numbers anywhere. Then there was the Space Pirates. For those unfamiliar with the term, at CES 2008, Jacobs was banging the press drums rather loudly. He was going to bring a 5 million USD treasure hunt into Entropia Universe where people could loot valuable items. It was all themed and marketed as "Space Pirates." > Space Pirates. Jacobs was later on forced to admit: Said CryEngine update did not happen until August 2009. Said Pirates were not seen until after the beta release of Next Island in December 2010. Well, they really are regular pirates. And the 5,000,000 USD has not been discovered yet either. Alright, so he hyped things just a tad. Is that so bad? Not if you do it once. But lying about becoming a millionaire (perhaps hoping that if you repeat the lie enough it just might become accepted as truth) and then marketing an event that never happens, just might make you look a bit... unprofessional. Is that it? No. Remember when Jacobs bought Club NEVERDIE? At the time, a controversy erupted in the Entropia user base due to a few reasons. Firstly, Jacobs announced months before it was released that he was "negotiating with the developers to build the greatest virtual nightclub ever." Also dubious was that he attended a conference, Digital Hollywood, in the role of "US spokesperson" for Project Entropia (as Entropia Universe was known back then): Lastly there was the revelation that the Club NEVERDIE domain name was registered days before the actual sale was announced to the world. Jacobs dismissed all of this as speculation and claimed he was waiting for a new sale, and wanted to be ready. On the "US Spokesperson" matter, he claimed: Again, a little lie, with only good intentions, but a lie nonetheless. Are we done now? Not quite. Recently, after the planet Next Island (for which Jacobs, through his "NEVERDIE Studios" takes care of development) went live, it turned out that Mr. Jacobs had secured himself a nice chunk of Next Island. In fact, all but one of the default teleporters on it would send you to the "new" Club NEVERDIE; a big "party-island." While Entropians were aware that NEVERDIE Studios was developing the planet, many were disappointed to find Jacobs' alter-ego having his name showing up all over the new planet (including, initially, in locations NOT on his own island). Shortly after, some new item discoveries were made by some people who are in Jacob's inner circle. In this particular case, two avatars in the same society as NEVERDIE himself discovered something new after a VU (VU = Version Update). Speculation erupted that these people with close ties to Jacobs might have had some insider knowledge, and a huge discussion arose on whether it should be allowed for a planet partner to be able to have a regular avatar who can trade with other avatars, and conduct regular player-to-player transactions with them, while at the same time having advanced knowledge on what is coming. As an example, imagine that you as a planet partner/developer, know there is a new MOB coming that does exclusively cold damage. So a few weeks in advance, you, or others in the know silently start stocking up on armor that protects against cold damage. When the new MOB comes out, you then have a field day peddling the same armor with huge profits to unsuspecting players who did not have this knowledge. And if you want a concrete example of the development team having upfront knowledge of systems, please have a look at the following quote, taken from a Next Island promotional interview: This is also the reason that when existing players ended up employed by MindArk, they were to abandon their avatars. Every mere hint at a conflict of interest ought to be avoided, at all costs. Anyone joining them was forced to retire their avatars, without exception. But NEVERDIE, by the time he was actively busy running ROCKtropia (a planet run by Jacobs and developed by NEVERDIE Studios), as well as being involved in developing Next Island, seems unaware of this, and thus, was happily trading, playing, and interacting, until he was forced by MindArk, who runs the Entropia Universe platform, to retire his avatar. A press release about being forced to retire his avatar was sent out on February 22nd: A witch hunt, organized by an international lynch mob, undoubtedly jealous of his "high profile activities?" But wait a minute. A few weeks prior to this, the retirement had already been announced by Jacobs on his own forum: Planet Partner Avatars - "PROHIBITED" That paints a bit of a different picture than the one from his own press release where he makes it sound as if he is being victimized, doesn't it? As it turns out, Jacobs either ignored the clause or rule in the Planet Partner Agreement stating that all private avatars belonging to Planet Partners ought to be retired, or never bothered reading the contract. Regardless of which of these two scenarios is true, the press release is based on made-up events, rather than fact. Self-promotion won over being truthful. A few weeks later, in late February, a ROCKtropia VU went horribly wrong, and high-level discontinued items suddenly dropped by the dozens, someone calling himself DAManager on PlanetCalypsoForum managed to loot a whole lot of these items (scanners): In itself, an innocent statement. But later DAManager followed up with this: (emphasis mine) (emphasis mine) Digital Abduction? A quick search reveals there is in fact a website at www.digitalabduction.com. Prior to the recent graphics change at the website, there was a statement that indicated that Digital Abduction was a “ROCKtropia-endorsed partner”: (emphasis mine) Luckily, we saved a screenshot of the site prior to the update: Note the combination of the last two quotes above creates the exact impression of the conflict of interest that was feared by the community before. Apparently, all the fuss created fell on deaf ears. To make matters worse, after announcing he was forced to retire his avatar, and sending out the press release about NEVERDIE being in digital prison, the very same "Jon NEVERDIE Jacobs" avatar was spotted selling real estate deeds on Next Island and the press release promised by DAManager never happened. Once again, the intention is not to damage Mr Jacobs in any of his ventures, and in fact, we wish him well. However, it is hoped that he will stick to the facts when he conducts himself in interviews and press releases. Hyping, exaggerating or lying will not achieve anything good, and in fact, will end up hurting Entropia Universe in the long run. Those who might get tempted by the press releases or interviews will soon discover they have been taken on a ride, and it will be that much harder to convince them to come back. There are times when data (for whatever reason) becomes unavailable after initially published. Copies of the YouTube videos, and screenshots of the posts referred to in this article were made as backups. Should links suddenly cease working, those backups can and will be made available on our own servers if necessary.