Whether you’re a new webmaster or online business owner, you’ve probably had dreams of making your own little online fortune at least once. Darren Chow’s latest project gives you the opportunity to do just that. He’s created an online business game called VRE Empire that serves not only as entertainment, but also as a learning tool for budding Webpreneurs.
The object behind the game is simple: set up websites, develop them, market them, and learn about online business along the way, all on your quest to make $1,000,000 in your first year of business. You start with a budget of $1000 and you earn more money and experience points in building, developing, and marketing websites by choosing two online business tasks per day.
The game can feel a bit overwhelming at first, much like the real game of online business, where you’ll be thinking “how the hell can I turn $1000 into $1,000,000??” Surprisingly, the game didn’t prove to be that difficult. I hit and exceeded the one million dollar mark on day 216 (out of 365).
There were several things I liked about VRE empire, and a few things I didn’t. Let’s get the constructive criticism out of the way first:
- The game is pretty far from reality on a few levels. Most notably is the fact that there seems to be a pretty direct correlation between how much you pay for something and how much you make (or how many experience points you get, as in the case of training tasks). In the real world, it doesn’t quite work that way (for instance, you’ll often find that free educational resources are much more influential than something that costs a few hundred dollars…. like reading quality forum posts as opposed to an expensive e-book).
- I wasn’t crazy about the fact that building more sites seemed to have an effect on earnings. In reality, someone with just one or two sites can be infinitely more popular than someone who bites off more than they can chew.
- You get to a point pretty early in the game where site development is essentially useless. You’ll find that training plus marketing can have you earning $10-20k per day. At those levels, it’s pretty easy to hit the goal of the one million dollar mark, and you miss the fact that continued updates and development are actually vital.
Most of my “complaints” have to do with it in the sense of a learning tool. At the same time though, you can’t expect any game to really reflect reality. It’s fun to play, and definitely includes some resources that would help newer webmasters generate ideas, and that in itself makes it worth more than the $37 lifetime fee in my opinion. Here are some of my favorite aspects of the game:
- The lists of training, development, site building, and marketing tasks that you get to choose from each day are a quality resource in and of themselves. They’ll certainly spark some ideas in webmasters whether they’re new or experienced, and serve as a reminder about some of the important tasks you shouldn’t neglect (such as the impact a simple controversial blog post can have on traffic, and therefore your site income).
- When you choose a task, Darren has included some quality tips on using them in your real online ventures (and you even have the option to save the ones you find the most useful). There are definitely some good tips included, although it would be nice to eventually see every task with a tip attached.
- Even though the numbers aren’t all that realistic for first-year online business owners, the dream is often as important as the actual work you put in. VRE Empire is an excellent tool in that sense… it’s motivational and would work well to keep the competitive spirit alive, especially when you get frustrated with a lack of progress in your “real work.”
Overall, the game is worthwhile for the tips it offers and the fact that it can keep you a bit more motivated or excited about the kind of work you do. You can almost look at VRE Empire as a sort of “interactive e-book,” where you’re getting the tips of an experienced online entrepreneur, but also have the opportunity to interact with what you’re learning by putting it to use and seeing results. You’ll also get a few free bonuses (including my own e-book on press release writing) when you sign up for a lifetime membership. So give it a shot, and come join me in the Internet millionaire club!