Facebook calls their database an intangible asset. It has value there is no transfer outside of the database to money. The value is in the data itself inside the database because people give it value.
A patent is value as well. Another intangible asset. It’s in your mind, and no where else, it can’t be transferred into money. But it has value, its transferred out using your time to write it down and send it to the patent office.
A 500MN Microdrive in game has no real world value, when you built it thats when it has value as you spent your time to make it. I am another player and I need one but i don’t want to spend my time in game earning the isk to buy it, so i buy plex. Now lets say i did earn isk, i spent time my purchased game time mining for the isk to buy it. My game time and my personal time was converted into value.
So i can use real world money to buy my game time, or i can use more of my in game time and personal time to buy plex with isk which gives me more subscription time and access to machinery that will make production easier and save me personal time.
The conversion to real world money happens at a point where you’re valuing your time. Its several degrees of separation but that’s what CCP wanted from day one. The reality of destruction being profit with them may cause people to stop playing the game.