After news of layoffs at Sulake, the Finnish developer of the Habbo Hotel social community for teens, we spoke to CEO Paul LaFontaine, who told us that Habbo Hotel will further evolve into a platform on which third parties will be able to develop additional services. GamesIndustry International recently got up with Paul LaFontaine, where they discussed Habbo's market share and future plans with the service. The article is a good read if you're interested in the service, but below is a rundown of their stated plans.
The company is transitioning from creating games in-house, to instead providing a set of API's to developers. To be sure that high quality content is created and targeted correctly at their audience, Sulake will also share their terabytes of collected user behavior and business intelligence with developers.
Sulake as a platform will also not be as closed off as one might expect. LaFontaine says that they are encouraging developers to engage their audience and reach out to their users to create high quality and targeted games. The revenue share between developers and Sulake is not yet announced.
"We're not experienced at building mobile games, we don't have the best game teams in the world," LaFontaine told GamesIndustry International. "We are one of the best at monetizing teens and creating a safe environment, so why not put the best with the best? We're also moving towards more user-generated content. We're going to provide best-in-class gaming with user-generated content in a safe environment where teens can spend, and that seems like a great way to grow the service."
It's important to keep this in context of Habbo Hotel's size. The platform sees over 249 million total registered Habbo characters, an average of 100,000 new members join every day, and more than 3 million new members joining every month. The majority of these users are in the 13-16 bracket.
LaFontaine continues, "We're just going to focus on what we're very good at. Teens traditionally don't monetize very well on other platforms; we monetize them very well. The other thing we do well is safety. We moderate all chat; we've been recognized by the EU for having one of the safer sites for teens. Safety is a passion of ours and we're very focused on that. If we can provide a safe, moderated environment where teens spend, and we open that up, we can take advantage of a lot of creative force."