Virtual World Analytics: Which Virtual World Optimization Solution Is Right For You?

February 4th, 2009  |  Published in SLENTRE.COM Magazine Feature Articles

by Avarie Parker, aka Lisa Peyton

One would think Virtual World Optimization and Analytics are relatively new practices just now coming into regular use. In fact, as long as virtual worlds have existed, someone somewhere has been measuring user activity. Increasingly sophisticated internet developments and increased online activity has allowed for a new threshold of measurable data based upon user interaction and engagement.

In today’s strained economic situation, the ability to measure the success of any new project or campaign has become mandatory, as CEO’s are now taking harder looks toward ROI. By collecting and analyzing key data, it is now possible to optimize user experiences, thereby improving overall performance. Companies expanding into Virtual Worlds need to consider overall goals and determine correspondingly specific Key Performance Indicators. Once a set of measurable success metrics has been established, Virtual World Analytics platforms and tools can be evaluated and the process of Virtual World Optimization can begin.

In this article, I outline the top providers of Virtual World Analytics solutions. Whether you own a simple Second Life shop or are creating your own corporate Virtual World platform, one of the providers below can help you track and reach your goals.

Maya Realities, Virtual World Analytics Solution Provider





1) Maya Realities – Owner – Eric Hackathorn, SL – Hackshaven Harford


Metrics: Position (X,Y,Z), Timestamp, Avatar Name, Avatar Status, Country Statistics, Avatar Profile Information, Region Health

VWs Supported: Second Life

Cost: $180.00 for 3 month subscription

Clients: New Medium Consortium, Linden Labs and several government agencies, universities and for profit companies.

Data Export: CSV

Target Client: Any organization owning a minimum of one “sim” land investment

Scan Range: 5 – 96 meters; default is 30 meters

Maya Realities is the brainchild of Eric Hackathorn, a SL veteran who has helped to bring real life organizations such as NOAA ( into Second Life. His Colorado-based company boasts an impressive client list including Second Life creator Linden Labs. Details about all the metrics available and services offered can be found here –

Maya Realities client web portal with heat map of Second Life region.

(Maya Realities’ sophisticated client web portal with heat map of NOAA’s Second Life region.)

Maya appears to excel at tracking avatar interactions with objects or ‘events’ via an ‘interaction API.’ Some of these events include touch, sit/stand, communications, movement, money exchanges, collisions, teleports, object rezzing, attached/detached, inventory change and custom events. Hackathorn believes his interaction API makes Maya’s product unique in the industry. “I believe we are the only company with an interaction API and integrated survey mechanism.” He explains that “the sensors, object interaction API and survey LSL code are fairly straight forward. Our design goal was to get the data as quickly and efficiently as possibly outside of SL to avoid dreaded things like lag. Most of the magic happens on our own web infrastructure which operates using a standard LAMP environment (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP).”

Also available are inworld survey tools that allow analysts access to qualitative data as well as quantitative. Maya Realities clients can create customized multiple choice and free form surveys to poll their audiences. Hackathorn showed me one of his surveys that virtually appear in Second Life as an actual clipboard with questions to be filled out.

His company doesn’t offer a free trial. However, Maya Realities’ Second Life Office ( does give visitors a free sensor for their land. The free sensor’s default scan range is 30 meters but this can be adjusted to up to 96 meters. Sensor data can only be retrieved via Second Life by clicking on the sensor inworld. More details about the free sensor can be found here –

Pricing for subscriptions to the Second Life analytics data start at $180 for 3 months or $60.00 per month, making Maya Realities one of the more expensive options out there. Installation of sensors covering one region runs $50.00 USD as does setting up a user survey. All subscription and installation pricing can be found on their website at

V-Tracker, Virtual World Analytics Solution by Code 4 Software







2) Code 4 Software – Owner – Jared Freedman, SL – Ancient Shriner


Metrics: Visitors, events such as taking an object and paying for an object, and chat logs

VWs: Second Life, Open Sim, Torque Engine, more in development

Cost: Starting from $50/month

Clients: IBM, Global Condo Center, Coldwell Banker, Cinemax

Data Export: XML, CSV, PDF, Excel, Tiff, and PNG

Target Audience: Corporations, Governmental Agencies and Educational Institutions

Scan Range: Full Sim or 65,536m

If you are looking for an enterprise level analytics solution, V-tracker is the obvious choice. Chosen by IBM for their Second Life analytic needs, the technology is scalable, flexible and reliable. V-tracker, developed by Jared Freeman aka Ancient Shriner in SL, is made up of 3 main components or sensor types; Passive Scanners, Event Sensors and Chat Loggers. The V-Tracker scanner records all the visitor data within the scanner range in one minute pulses. Unlike most of the other solutions, one V-Tracker scanner is powerful enough to cover an entire sim or over 65,000 meters.

The second component of the V-Tracker platform is an event sensor which can detect avatar events, such as paying for an object, taking an object and touching an object. The sensor works in much the same way a javascript tag works on websites. As Freeman explains it: “There are various ‘Sensor Types’ that reflect the type of event to be trapped and execute the appropriate set of code depending upon an XML based set-up card. Much like a JavaScript tag is inserted into pages to be tracked by a Web Metrics capture tool, V-Tracker requires that a script (non-modifiable) and an XML format set-up note card (modifiable) are dropped into the object where the tracking should take place. Once uploaded into the object, and if the scripts are set to running, the object will immediately begin tracking data. The data appropriate to the Sensor Type is transmitted to the database via HTTP/Web Services.”

The final components are chat loggers which record public chat or conversations happening on the sim. V-Tracker is the only solution provider offering chat logs as part of their standard analytics platform. There are two types of chat loggers; mobile and stationary. Mobile chat loggers are avatars or ‘agents’ that act as a recording device, recording and storing all chat text within ‘hearing’ range. According to Freeman, stationary chat loggers act in much the same way “except for the non-association with any specific avatar and the fact that the location information will always be the same. ” Because remote chat loggers can impact virtual world user privacy, Freeman advises that “a stationary chat logger must be clearly labeled in-world as a remote chat logger, so people around it will know that their chat is being remotely logged. Special care should be used when having stationary chat loggers as it is very easy to run afoul of Linden Lab ‘Terms of Service’ regarding the remote logging of chat. Please consult your legal counsel if considering placing stationary remote chat loggers.”

Example of V-Tracker's inworld testing device in Second Life.

(Example of V-Tracker’s inworld survey device in Second Life.)

V-Tracker appears to be more advanced than any of the other analytics solutions currently available. That fact combined with an impressive client roster make it a great choice for large corporations where price isn’t a major concern.

Ancient Shriner, aka Jared Freeman developer of V-Tracker discusses platform components on his Second Life sim.

(Ancient Shriner aka Jared Freeman, developer of V-Tracker, discusses platform components on his Second Life sim located on Ranchero

When asked what differentiates V-Tracker from the competition, Freeman explains:

“We are far more advanced in nearly every way from object oriented n-tier architecture, to scalable date range reports, agent filtering, campaign tracking, campaign side-by-side comparisons, A-B testing support, In-world Quiz and Testing support and more. All of our software runs on 64-bit operating systems on beefy Quad Core servers that we own, and has been optimized for extreme throughput, numbering in the tens of millions of transactions per month. We have had 99.97% uptime for the past two years and offer 99.9% uptime as our standard Service Level Agreement (SLA). We’re the enterprise choice.”

Metaverse Business, Virtual World Analytics Solution









3) Metaverse Business – Owner – SL – Louis Platini


Metrics: Visits, Returning Visitors, Visit Length, Avatar Names, Avatar Profiles, Geo-Locations of Vistors, Visitor Entry and Exit

VWs: Second Life, OpenSim

Cost: Basic subscription starts at $1.00 per month

Clients: Confidential

Data Export: Excel

Target Client: Second Life store owners, Real Life businesses with a Second Life presence

Scan Range: 96 meters

Metaverse Business offers a full range of very inexpensive and easy to install sensors at their inworld location, Initially I tried the free sensor which includes a free 2 week web subscription. It was so easy to install and user friendly, I quickly decided to purchase 3 additional sensors and install them as well. A full product list with all the different types of sensors are listed on the website at They range in price from $0.00 to $16.00 USD and do everything from simply track the number of visitors to providing event analysis and the geographical location of visitors. In addition to the sensor, you’ll need a subscription to the web platform that displays the data. The prices are very reasonable with a basic subscription starting at just $1.00 per month. At the higher end, a 6 month extended subscription including avatar profiling would run about $160.00 or only $26.00 per month.

Screenshot of the User Profile feature in the extended subscription service offered by Metaverse Business.

(Screenshot of the User Profile feature in the extended subscription service offered by Metaverse Business.)

The extended subscription ( allows access to avatar or user profiles of all sim visitors, heat maps identifying sim hot spots, entry and exit location and event analysis.

Metaverse Business owner, Louis Platini, outside his store in Second Life.

(Metaverse Business owner, Louis Platini, outside his store in Second Life.)

According to Metaverse Business owner, Louis Platini, the user profiling feature is unique to his analytics platform, “I know of nobody else that offers user profiling in the SL analytics community. Every avatar or visitor belongs to Second Life groups and those groups tell me what their interests are. We use an artificial intelligence program to categorize the groups with about 100-200 categories. For example, from my groups you can see that I am interested in Belgium and in programming. We aggregate that data and show the percentage of each category relative to the overall SL population.”

Screenshot of the heat map feature offered by Metaverse Business, displays most popular sim locations and visitor exit and entry points.

(Screenshot of the heat map feature offered by Metaverse Business. This displays the most popular sim locations and visitor exit and entry points.)

Platini also offers customized reporting and sensor implementation to ensure that customers’ unique goals can be met by the Metaverse Business platform. He has also implemented sensors in the ever growing world of OpenSimulator, a group of Virtual World grids built around an open-source, 3D application server. If you are looking for a reasonably priced analytics solution that gives insight into user profiles, offers map overlays or heat maps of your sim, and is easy to install, this would be the platform for you.

SLogbase Second Life Analytics Open Source Solution













4) SLogbase – Developer – Leon Atkinson – SL – EZ Martin


Metrics: Unique Visitors, Avatar names, Avatar location

VWs: Second Life

Cost: Free

Clients: Unknown

Data Export: CSV

Target Client: Second Life Land Owners technically savvy enough to implement an open-source, PHP based solution.

Scan Range: 96 meters

SLogbase is the pet project of Leon Atkinson, Chief Technologist at a digital marketing firm based out of Berkeley, CA called Clear Ink, Originally designed in hopes of getting their virtual word client roster to install the program, Clear Ink currently doesn’t handle any Second Life clients.

As described on their website, SLogbase is simply “a lightweight database attached to objects in Second Life™ that provides the same functionality as Apache Web server logs. It uses ordinary LSL code in Second Life to send sensor data to an external PHP/MySQL application.” The free PHP source code, along with reporting screenshots and an explanation of how it works, can be found on the website at

Screenshot of SLogbase reporting interface.

(Screenshot of SLogbase reporting functions.)

What makes SLogbase unique is that it doesn’t require any type of website subscription and it’s free to use. According to code developer Leon Atkinson, “The key appeal of Slogbase is that you don’t purchase it. You just take the code and run it. You have the power to fix bugs yourself and you can contribute the fixes back to the project. You can hire Clear Ink to help you with any aspect of using Slogbase, from installing it to modifying it to producing advanced reports on the data it collects.”

More information can be found at Clear Ink’s Second Life location, and on their blog at

Virtual World Optimization and Analytics provide, Second Analytics










5) Second Analytics – Owner – Christian Leffin – SL – Kriz Janus


Metrics: visits, unique visitors, duration of the visit, new versus returning, server performance, real life geolocation of individual avatars (country, region, city), credit card payment info, age, clicks, url popups.

VWs: Second Life

Cost: Starts from $17.50 per month

Clients: Kelly Services, Deutsche Telekom, OSRAM Lighting, KaDeWe, Orange, Nokia Siemens, Dresdner Bank

Data Export: CSV and Text format

Target Client: Every Second Life sim owner from small to enterprise level

Scan Range: 96 meters

Second Analytics is a web based analytics platform for Second Life. They offer a free 30 day trial ( which allows users to get a feel for the type of data they provide. In order to set-up the trial, you simply complete a form on the company website and within a few days, a tracking device is delivered to your Second Life avatar. Once received, the sensor needs to be installed on your Second Life sim. Once installed, Second Analytics sets up access to the analytics website where all the retrieved data is stored and displayed for the sim owner. I was impressed at how quickly they responded to my original request – and I had access to data within just a few days.

Second Analytics web-based user interface is intuitive and easy to use.

(Second Analytics web-based user interface is intuitive and easy to use.)

The user interface is very intuitive and easy to navigate. They provide information on Visits, Unique Avatars, Geo Locations of those visitors, and event and campaign mangement. One unique feature is the ability to IM all visitors to your sim within a given date range. Less than one week after sensor implementation, I had aggregated the names and birthdates of over 100 avatars along with the date they visited my sim. With the click of a mouse, I had the ability to IM all visitors, offering them a promotion, asking for feedback, etc. This is a valuable boon for any sim owner eager to promote and market events, products, etc. Just this feature alone would be well worth the $17.50 monthly fee. A complete listing of Second Analytics pricing can be found at

The owner of Second Analytics, Christian Leffin, aka Kriz Janus in SL, assured me that his solution was flexible and scalable. According to Leffin, “We currently only support Second Life. Depending on which VWs will also become popular, we could imagine integrating them as well – our IT architecture is open to that (standard http-requests/mysql database/webfrontend). If a virtual world supports some kind of sensor element, we can integrate it into our solution.” He also explained, “All data is stored permanently so clients can easily go back in time and have a longterm overview of their data. Today we have approximately 1.5 million avatar profiles in our database and we have successfully tracked islands in the top 10 for over 2 years now.”

With his impressive client list and outstanding customer service, I’d suggest this solution as optimal for almost any Second Life sim owner. Leffin had this to say about his current client base:

“We have clients from small shop owners to large communities; from non-profit organizations up to fortune 500 companies. To name a few of them: Kelly Services, Deutsche Telekom, OSRAM Lighting, KaDeWe, Orange, Nokia Siemens, Dresdner Bank, the “Apfelland” community with 40 sims, popular sims with more than 1.000 unique avatars/day like “Wien”, some folks from LL, a couple of universities, and many more. We also work together with the Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg, Germany where students are working on new innovative approaches to metrics in virtual worlds (”

Leffin also runs a creative agency specializing in virtual world development and Social Media Marketing called liventura (, located in Berlin. He originally developed his Second Life analytics solution for his agency client roster but modified it slightly when other agencies began requesting something similar. It is now possible for a creative agency to have a master analytics account, allowing access to all of their sensors but restricting individual client access.

Why choose Second Analytics? I think Leffin summed it up best: “It just works, is easy to use, and will scale with your needs.”

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