Thursday, June 26, 2008

The How of Habbo Hotel

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did a small Finnish company create an online world which now boasts the
largest current active user base in Europe and North America (about 6.5
million)*, far larger than World of Warcraft (around 4.5 million, not
counting its Chinese audience)? Last week, Sulka Haro of Sulake Labs flew all the way to the Game Developer Conference
in Austin, Texas to explain how the teen-oriented, Shockwave-driven
Habbo Hotel has grown from a tiny 2.5D space of two rooms into a
massive place that last year made an estimated $77 million in annual revenue. (Much smaller earnings than Blizzard’s WoW, to be sure, but then, Sulake has a staff of just 300 to Blizzard’s 2700.)

Gamasutra was on hand to take great notes,
which is a good thing, because very few developers reportedly attended
Haro’s talk. (The phenomenal success of Habbo Hotel continues to
be criminally under-appreciated by the game industry.) Reading
Gamasutra’s coverage, I’ve gleaned five takeaways that
strike me as most valuable.