A second income on Second Life
Entrepreneurs sell virtual products in the online world – but the money they make is very real.
(Page 2 of 3)
Doug Bassett (in-game name "Doug Latrell") also operates a successful SL business. As a senior technical instructor for Thomson NETg, a training company in Scottsdale, Ariz., he teaches courses that involve Cisco and Microsoft technologies. Mr. Bassett has now extended his company's presence into SL, offering its courses in the game world. Revenue from in-game sales of courses is more than $10,000 a month and growing, he says.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
A major factor in opening an SL branch was the "coolness factor and a unique way of meeting people that we wouldn't normally meet," he says.
For now, only virtual products are sold on SL, but Dell plans to let SL users buy real-world versions of its SL products sometime in the future, perhaps as early as this summer. At the Consumer Electronics Show, held earlier this month in Las Vegas, IBM unveiled online stores for Sears and Circuit City that it developed on SL.
Virtual audits, anyone?
But not everything is sunny in the SL economy. The question of taxes on SL income is becoming a hot topic. The US House Joint Economic Committee has recently undertaken an investigation of the entire question of virtual economies, according to Dan Miller, a senior economist working for the committee. An avid user of virtual worlds (notably the most popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft), Mr. Miller is studying how tax policies might be adjusted to account for this new digital world. He plans to issue a report this spring.
According to Miller, some things are pretty clear. "The income tax already applies to income that is removed from virtual economies," he writes in an e-mail – as in when an SL user converts lindens back into US dollars. But the subject of taxing assets inside SL is more controversial, he says. "Based on our initial assessment of virtual economies ... virtual worlds need greater clarification, not additional taxation," he writes. "Governments have a hand in regulating many aspects of physical economies to one degree or another, while the government's presence in virtual worlds is relatively minor."