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Making Habbo Hotel a success January 11, 2008

Posted by jeremyliew in casual games, game design, games, games 2.0, gaming, virtual worlds.

Sulka Haro’s keynote speech on Habbo Hotel at the AGDC conference in September was well summarized by Gamasutra. For people building social games, it is worth reading the whole thing. His perspective is more from that of a virtual world than a game, but it is useful to hear the history of Habbo’s evolution and some of his examples of emergent play. (see previous post on what makes games fun, in particular sections on Games of Simulation and Games of New Stimulation)

His six summary points are:

1. Create something to play with. “Lego are a good example of what you should be building.”
2. Intuitive interaction. “You need to kill the UI. If the users notice there’s a UI it’s probably too complicated.”
3. Set up a mood for play. “This is maybe the hardest part to explain. In the real world, as I mentioned earlier, it’s increasingly hard to play. Just celebrate the fact that people do stuff and don’t punish for failures.”
4. Support user-created goals. “Players know the best.”
5. Shared social setting. “Even when people create the content, let people walk into the room and [use] the stuff. If you want to play, you need to figure out how to play.”
The bonus sixth point, according to Haro, is safety. “The users need to feel as comfortable as possible.” Habbo bans players for passing personal info. “If you construct the game so that people can screw up what other people do, people won’t bother… it’s too difficult to maintain.”


1. Owen Byrne - January 14, 2008

My nieces, 11 and 13, just got a Wii. They spent 75% of their time setting up their Mii (avatar) rather than actually playing games. I guess that’s emergent play.

2. Big A - January 21, 2008

I have enjoyed using Habbo in the past, until I came across http://www.citypixel.com which I now use exclusively for my virtual world needs. Citypixel takes Habbo to the next level, leaving the “hotel” space and immersing users into a virtual city that harbors creativity. Very neat if you ask me. Definitely worth checking out.

3. Labrator’s Weblog - January 28, 2008

[…] under Economics, Politics | Tags: failure, house prices, punishment |   I was reading this article on making Habbo Hotel a success and when I got to the following section, something struck a chord. 1. Create something to play […]

4. joe - March 24, 2008

Why listen to the HABBO guys? They have blown it… 8 years and counting running HABBO and they still have not made 1 euro (they have been loss making every year with the exception or 1 business quarter in 06). Sulake is a technically excellent game and virtual world publisher but managerially retarded…

5. Lisa - April 2, 2008

Hello everyone,

I am currently working on a thesis entitled “key success factors” for a virtual world.

Frankly, I don’t know where to start and where to look. So that’s why I am asking you guys. Do you have any ideas that are coming to your mind spontaneously?

I have already figured some of them out, like: Intuitive game play, Community Management, Costs of usage, User generated content, Link with real world.

However, I am wondering if it is possible to establish such key success factors that are valid for any MMOG?

I am waiting for your encourageing answers!

Thanks a lot in advance.


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