The creators of EVE Online are today congratulating themselves on the very successful PLEX for Graphics Card joint campaign with Nvidia. Yesterday, within 64 seconds of the first redemption going through, all 100 of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 graphics cards available in the PLEX for Graphics Cards program were sold out.
The give-away allowed players to exchange 20 in-game currency called PLEX (or Pilot's License Extension) for a GTX 560 and have it shipped to their home for free. While this hasn't been the first PLEX for "real world" benefit, CCP are experimenting with the idea of more real world trading for virtual currency, something that may catch on in the future.
In essence, PLEX is a mechanism that allows players with enough in-game wealth to play "for free" by trading with another player who has bought PLEX from CCP, giving the original PLEX purchaser a good influx of in-game currency in the transaction, i.e. "time-rich" players working with "cash-rich" players for mutual benefit and profit, expanding EVE Online's subscription model to better serve it's players. It has also done wonders to combat Real Money Trading within EVE Online as a safe, effective method for players to turn real life currency into virtual currency.
While we may not see fully constructed computers for sale of PLEX, it's an interesting market that many companies are starting to touch base with, the most primitive being free-to-play cash shops that allow players to redeem "real world money" for in-game items.
You can check out more over on the official website, as well as watch the PLEX for Cards keynote at the EVE Fanfest 2012 below.