Virtual Worlds Moving towards the "Multiverse" Era — New Business Outlook Seen in "Second Life"
Since around the end of 2006, increased attention has been given to Second Life (an Internet-based service in the US). A three-dimensional (3D) space such as Second Life is called a "virtual world." In Second Life, users can interact and conduct economic activities such as creating and selling/purchasing objects in a way similar to that in the real world.
Unlike conventional websites, the virtual world enables users to experience a high sense of reality and share real-time experiences. Some companies have started to use virtual worlds for their businesses.
The number of Second Life users has been expanding rapidly. At the beginning of 2006, the number of users was 100,000 throughout the world, and exceeded 7.5 million by the end of June 2007. The total money supply based on virtual currency has also been increasing, creating a virtual economic bloc amounting to more than \1.1 billion.
In addition to Second Life, various other virtual worlds have been appearing on the Internet. We are nearing a new era that can be referred to as the "multiverse era" where Internet users can select multiple virtual worlds according to their specific needs.
The arrival of the multiverse era will accelerate the emergence of new technology and/or services, such as technology for communication between multiple virtual worlds and between virtual worlds and the real world as well as financial services to transfer virtual currencies among different virtual worlds.
With the expansion of virtual worlds, the lack of legal systems that are available in the real world will constitute a problem. The sound development of virtual worlds will require the establishment of legal systems appropriate for the multiverse era and the forming of agreements on various matters.