Making Money in Second Life


Last week, I reported in my IS Strategy class on IBM’s plan to invest $10MM in Second Life. I explained the concept of Second Life to the class because a large number of students had never heard of SecondLife. This spurred an excellent discussion on the implications of virtual worlds on IS strategy, and what companies like IBM would have to gain from investing in virtual world technologies. Many people were blown away by the fact that people actually make money in Second Life. I was asked, “How do people make money in Second Life?” Unfortunately I didn’t know at the time, so I decided to do some more research on the topic. After looking into it, there are endless possibilities for Making Money in Second Life or in other virtual worlds.

How is it possible to make money in a virtual world when nothing is “real”?

One way that people are making money in Second Life is by creating virtual objects and by selling them in a virtual shop. For example, someone with clever design and marketing skills can create their own virtual brand of clothing and sell their clothing in Second Life. How are Second Life items created? I’ve been asked if you must buy raw materials in Second Life. The answer is, you can, but you don’t have to. Items are created by using Second Life 3D modeling tools and the Second Life scripting language. You can upload images that become the textures on your new objects. It costs money to upload these images to Second Life, so it might be better to buy pre-fabricated building blocks to assemble your new creations. Check out the Suzanne’s Guitar video for a demonstration of creating a virtual item.

Sun's amphitheaterBuilding and selling objects is not the only way of making money on Second Life. There is a large service and entertainment market inside Second Life. Second Life entrepreneurs can buy land and build amusement parks, dance clubs, theaters, etc. and charge for admission. Businesses can build facilities to host meetings and other events. Sun Microsystems recently hosted a Q&A session on an upcoming Java release in their Second Life amphitheater. Dell Computers has also purchased an island that will feature a Dell history museum. Reuters now employs a reporter to report on activity inside of Second Life.

How many times have you heard someone say while playing Monopoly, “If this money were real, I’d be rich!” Second Life is like playing Monopoly with real money. It features a lot more complexity, and it is built on a real economy.

SecondLife lays the groundwork for a real economy.

When I first heard of Second Life, I thought it was ridiculous and nothing more than a networked Sims game. However, the more I research, the more I realize that the coming about of virtual worlds and economies is almost as significant as Columbus’ discovery of The New World. Second Life has its own economy with a real exchange rate. Over $500,000 USD changes hands inside of Second Life every day.

Linden Labs publishes daily statistics on the economy and other market data. People can invest in Linden dollars, Linden real estate, or Linden-based businesses.

Dangers still lurk for SecondLife entrepreneurs.

Recently, in-world business owners have been frustrated by Intellectual Property theft. A well-meaning open source software application that was meant to aid in creating Second Life items, has been altered to copy existing items inside the virtual world. The software, named CopyBot, is causing quite a stir in-world. With this software, anyone can copy any item, and reproduce it just like pirating real software applications.

Linden Labs has issued a warning that anyone found using this CopyBot utility will be banished and lose any property that they owned inside of Second Life. I’m guessing that better security measures will need to be put in place to protect business owners’ Intellectual Property.

Will SecondLife stay around?
My bet is that SecondLife will remain a lively community for years to come. Why? Because people have real money invested in this world. New versions of the software will continue to be built with better utilities, graphics, and options. New worlds will come into creation, and software will be built that will connect the virtual worlds into a virtual universe. IBM wants to work closely with other emerging virtual worlds and technologies. Virtual worlds are here to stay and shouldn’t be treated as just a game. They will make an impact on our lives and our children’s lives.

17 thoughts on “Making Money in Second Life”

  1. Dear Jimmy, Hi, my name is Abhilasha and I’m a journalist with Business Standard Newspaper, New Delhi. I am doing a story on secondlife.com. Jimmy, I was in touch with a person on secondlife.com (my own avataar is Abhilasha Oskaan there) who said that virtual money (ie Linden dollars) can be translated into real money. Can you please clear my doubts. For example, if I am a designer on secondlife.com, how can I convert my Linden dollars into US $. In other words, how can a virtual currency work out as “real”, hard cash? Please clear my doubts? Are people pumping real cash on secondlife.com? Also, why are corporates like Dell Computers, Reebok, Adidas etc on secondlife.com? How does it help them? Please send me a detailed reply so that I can include the inputs for my story.
    PS: Are there any other sites similar to secondlife.com? Why is secondlife.com getting so popular?my email: abhilashaojha@gmail.com
    regards,
    Abhilasha

  2. The only thing about converitng Linden dollars to real money is the fact that some will try and use it to launder money, it will create a dilemma for entities to track those “people” with bad intentions.

  3. converting Linden dollars to real world cash is almost identical to a currency exchange in real life.

    you can put money into SL via a credit card, to buy what ever you like in-world, or you can sell something or work in-world for linden dollars then convert that back to your credit card

    its all quite simple once you can see past the technology involved

  4. There are already thousands or maybe hundreds of people who converts their linden dollars to real money since we cant afford to just get hacked and lose all those linden dollars that we spend time in earning.

    I make money in Second Life through blogging and I think as a business it will be more successful. I made it through blogging. What more those who are really making a business in-world.

  5. After seeing Sony’s Home virtual world for Playstation 3, Second life just looks so archaic. I think Sony has improved certain aspects of virtual compared to SL. If only PS3 had good sales…

  6. Hiya,

    yep I make rather good money in Second Life. At this moment I make about 3.000 USD a month doing virtual sales.

    I run various projects in Second Life. There is an asian market where I sell the Japanese and Chinese antiques I build. Recently I added a new line of Japanese styled building elements. All have been textured with detail in mind. If you like to see all elements put together in a beautiful context, please visit our ‘Hosoi Ichiba’ (see the SLURL in the links list). If you plan to build your own palace or market place or sim this is the product for you. People love the high detailed textures.
    Check out: http://hosoi-ichiba.blogspot.com/

    And you don’t have to be around in Second Life to actually sell your stuff. There is also a Second Life Marketplace that is not run by Linden Labs. Here you can put all your stuf for sale for a little commission.
    Check out: http://slexchange.com/modules.php?name=Marketplace&MerchantID=32983

    I also designed an online game called Nugget Gulch Goldmine Game.
    Nugget Gulch is a forgotten ghost town abandoned by its residents. What only few people know is, there is still a tresure in gold hidden in the mountains. Get your tools and try your luck. You might find your super nugget today! We have about 70.000 worth of objects hidden in the Sim today!

    The game is situated in the most lovely authentic scenery known to Second Life. The goal of the game is to find as many valuable objects in this desert and the mountains as you possibly can within a given timespan. You can find Gold, Silver, Coins, Spurs, etc. Below you will find a list of possible finds and their value. The Nugget Gulch Developer Team is constantly working to improve the game and the scenery. As the game will grow we will add new exiting features and interactivity. We try to bring you the best possible, authentic atmosphere. The Nugget Gulch Sim is not an RPG but we like our visitor to blend in with the scenery as much as possible.
    Check out: http://nugget-gulch.com/

    Next to this sales thing I run a real life company Hosoi Estates.
    Hosoi Estates can be at your service in a variety of fields. From design and building services to assisting you with planning to expand your business into Second Life. If you have other specific needs that aren’t listed below, good chance we can also help you with that. You can contract us to…
    • Buy or sell your private land
    • Buy or sell your private islands
    • Buy or sell your property
    • Design and build structures for you
    • Design and build buildings for you
    • Help you with setting up your business
    • Help you with finding the perfect location

    Check out: http://sl-estates.com/

    Okay, thats my 2 cents.

    Cheers,

    Ami

  7. Abhilasha – if you are a journalist do some research.. sheesh, how lazy to expect someone to provide all the answers

  8. …then there are sites like http://AltPlayers.com that can make you 5000L$ in a week. good to get you started in SL anyway.

    i tried earn2life.com but the interface was buggy and I centainly dont want to use my viewer ALL the time to make 5L$ to visit different boring areas for 10 mins -.- ho hum

    nice article on Second Life. I believe second life is still alive and very much seto to grow . after the initial hype anyway.
    The only thing keeping second life from growing is linden labs and their crappy support. oh they also hate 3rd party vendors and sites like VirWox.com that are running business out of SL without cutting them in.

  9. Hi.. Im a second life content creator and member. Figured I’d take a stab at answering some questions from my view point.
    Ive been in Second Life for nearly two years… when I started I was a noob with nothing… stopping by money trees and learned really quickly that wasnt the way to go for me. I had been running a Internet Radio station for a couple years previous and found quickly that it was a tiny leap to DJing Virtually in clubs inside SL using my exsisting hobby. at first I averaged between 1k and 3K Lindens per week for a few shifts of live DJing, which was pretty fun, but required a schedule. I continued DJing for over a year, using my lindens to pay for things like virtual clothing, DJ stations, Stream control huds and even paid for my stream server service within SL with the lindens I was earning.. I was turning a meager lil profit but fun none the less.. While doing this I started learning the bones of content creation. From basic prim manipulation and texture behavior to Sculpty/Mesh Modelling both inworld and when offline. I know own a few stores under the brand name, “Darkly Neko” where I make Neko/Feline related Wearables, Furniture and other unique detailed and sometimes even custom item and content. Sales have been hurt by the horrid economy, but I still get some sales… Some months I do ok.. some not so much… but in the end.. I do it, because I love CREATING and am far less restricted in my ability to create virtually then I could EVER do in Reality. My tails, ears and other products arent just products, they are my works of art… my stores… they are my gallery… and if I never sell another virtual object.. I will keep on making them.. and thats the main reason the economy still moves inside SL. We actually enjoy it. 😀
    Thanks for reading and apologize for the lengthiness of the post.

  10. Too bad we have to be 18 years to join instead of 13. Now I’ll have to wait 5 years to get started, and by then I’ll be out in the streets :(

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