Some people look at Second Life and see unlimited potential. Others see an over-hyped fad that will soon fade away. Today, thanks to some vigilant reading by the MACPA's own Richard Rabicoff, we have something for each point of view.
Let's start with the glass-half-full crowd. This Baltimore Sun article examines the huge potential that a growing number of businesses see in Second Life's virtual world. It also examines people like Brad Reiss, who quit his real-life job to become a Second Life entrepreneur.
"Second Life, or at least some 3-D virtual platform, will take over the Internet in five years," Reiss told The Sun. "The majority of people think it's just some kind of cult video game, but that's what they said about the Web. I'm in there so I can experience it from the get-go."
That train of thought is leading some people to believe CPAs should start preparing to adjust their practices to include virtual worlds and virtual currencies, like the Linden dollars that are exchanged in Second Life.
"People are already spending vast amounts of money in Linden dollars, paying both virtual and real money to buy and sell the assets they can use in games like Linden Lab’s Second Life," writes WebCPA's Michael Cohn. "Online, they’re investing in virtual real estate, furnishing homes for their virtual lives online, buying luxury cars and other goods that appear only on their computer screens when they’re inside the alternative reality of massively multiplayer online games like Second Life.
"As this activity takes off," Cohn continues, "keeping track of personal finances in virtual worlds may well call for accountants to set up shop in cyberspace, and not just on the Web sites that many accounting firms have already established."
The MACPA agrees. That's why we're in the process of establishing an expanded CPA presence in Second Life. Others, however, feel differently.
"A year ago," writes Emily Steele in this Wall Street Journal article, "online virtual world Second Life was being hailed as the next big digital-marketing phenomenon. But it has begun to lose some of its luster. Put off by high costs and uncertain returns, marketers who had rushed to establish a presence in the three-dimensional online computer game are beginning to look elsewhere. Some are trying other virtual worlds with names like Gaia Online, Zwinktopia, Stardoll and Habbo. Others, particularly in the entertainment industry, are creating their own virtual worlds that fans visit via a brand's Web site."
What do you think? Are virtual worlds like Second Life the real deal?