Habbo Hotel, one of the world's largest and hottest online destinations for teenagers, will be opening its doors to animated story-based programming. In response to overwhelming consumer demand from the site's teen audience for new ways to experience the innovative world of Habbo Hotel, Sulake, the creators of the burgeoning community, have launched an animation challenge. Through this challenge, animation studios from across the globe will compete to help bring the popular Web world beyond the Internet.
"Our mission is to build Habbo into a new kind of lifestyle brand which is rooted in the vast online community of our users. Animation is a natural step for us in our quest to expand the Habbo brand to new areas of entertainment. It is important that we stay true to the spirit of the Habbo community and make sure that our users' opinions are taken into account," said Timo Soininen, ceo of Sulake.
To date Habbo Hotel sites have been introduced in 16 countries, with more than 26 million Habbo characters created and 3.6 million unique users each month. The U.S. destination was opened in September 2004 and boasts more than one million unique users per month who spend on average more than three hours a week on the site (Nielsen Net Ratings).
Targeted to teens 13-20 and boasting a user community evenly divided between male and female, Habbo Hotel combines the concept of simulation gaming with the camaraderie of a community enabling teens and young adults to express themselves creatively. Teens join by creating a fully-customized online character persona, called a Habbo. From there, users explore the vast hotel where they can chat and make friends with other Habbos, play a wide range of games, party and dance by the pool and create and decorate their own fantasy hotel room.
Habbo Hotel's migration to animation starts with "Habbosodes." Through the challenge, selected studios from around the world have been invited to participate in the creation of 15 three-minute webisodes. These commissioned Habbosodes will be compiled into a DVD and distributed internationally through both online and retail fulfillment. Members of the Habbo online community will help determine the most popular vignettes by an online poll. This collaborative initiative will act as a creative springboard or catalyst for the animated television series and other media applications.
To oversee Sulake's expansion into the animation and TV arena, Sulake has appointed renowned Canadian television exec Dale Taylor as its svp, television and animation. Recognized as the driving creative force behind YTV Canada's rating success in its formative years, Taylor will spearhead all aspects of the challenge and subsequent DVD and television distribution of the winning content. Taylor is still accepting applications from animation studios to participate.
Additionally, Sulake has recently appointed the New York-based integrated marketing agency Big Tent Ent. as its North American licensing agent. Big Tent will look to capitalize on the online excitement to help build Habbo into a global multi-faceted teen lifestyle brand.
Rich Collins, ceo of Big Tent Ent., commented, "Habbo Hotel has already solidified itself as one of the top teen destinations in the world. We are excited about the animation challenge and resulting `Habbosodes' as they are designed to deliver exactly what teens expect from the brand. The resulting episodes created from the animation challenge will launch on DVD later this year and are sure to have broad appeal and become instant collector's items."
Sulake is an interactive entertainment company that specializes in developing, publishing and distributing multiplayer online communities and games. Sulake has more than 170 employees worldwide. The main shareholders of Sulake are Benchmark Capital; Taivas Group; 3i Group plc; Elisa Group; the founders of Sulake, Sampo Karjalainen and Aapo Kyrölä; and Sulake's ceo Timo Soininen. For more information, visit www.sulake.com.
Big Tent Ent. is a marketing agency specializing in the integrated management of entertainment brands. Formed in 2002, the company focuses exclusively on providing brand management for entertainment and lifestyle content.