|Web address||See list of websites|
|Slogan||Hangout for teens|
|Type of site||Social networking service|
|Users||278 million (as of August 2012)|
|Created by||Sampo Karjalainen
|Launched||See full list|
|Alexa rank||31,389 (April 2014[update])|
Habbo (previously known as Habbo Hotel) is a Finnish social networking service aimed at teenagers. The website is owned and operated by Sulake Corporation. The service began in 2000 and has expanded to include 11 online communities (or "hotels"), with users in over 150 countries. As of August 2012, over 273 million avatars have been registered. There is an average 5 million unique visitors monthly. 90% of Habbo's users are between the age of 13 and 18.
Habbo stemmed from a 1999 hobby project by creative designer Sampo Karjalainen and technologist Aapo Kyrölä entitled Mobiles Disco, for a Finnish band. It was a virtual chat room running on Aapo's Fuse technology. After having been contracted to design a virtual game and chat called Lumisota (Snow Wars) for a Finnish internet service provider, they were contracted for another project. They developed Hotelli Kultakala (eng. Hotel Goldfish) with a small team of developers. It launched in August 2000 on the ISP's web portal.
Aapo, Sampo and Dee Edwards, an entrepreneur from the UK, wanted to create an international business based on the virtual hotel concept, drafting a plan in Autumn 2000 and raised finance. By the end of January 2001, Habbo Hotel had been launched in beta mode. The new hotel exited beta a few weeks afterwards, aimed at the teenage market, with marketing and payment partners in place, run from a HQ in London. It featured a new credits system with community and safety features. The next hotel was launched in Switzerland a few months later, in four languages. It has since been expanded to over 31 countries in five continents, including Hotelli Kultakala in Finland which was made into a Habbo Hotel and has been invested in by venture capitalists.
In May 2006, the service, along with its domain names, were changed from www.habbohotel.com (.co.uk, .com.au, etc.) to www.habbo.com (.co.uk, .com.au, etc.). In August 2007, Habbo's Chinese community closed down temporarily, the first time a Habbo website has closed. The challenging Chinese market and high operational costs led to the decision of closing the service. Customers in China were redirected to other Habbo communities. In December 2008, Habbo's Russian community announced it was closing in February 2009 as a result of low numbers. Those on the site with "furni" (virtual furniture that can be used to furnish rooms in the hotel that are bought with the use of Habbo Credits or Coins, that can be purchased with actual money) have been told they will receive credit codes for use on the USA Habbo community.
In January 2010, it was announced that Habbo US and Habbo Canada would undergo a merger, to be finalized in April 2010. However, in April 2010, it was announced that all English-speaking hotels will be merged as one. On May 5, the merger for Habbo US and Habbo Canada was complete. On June 2, the Australian site merge was completed. The Singapore site was officially merged on June 4. On June 10, the final Hotel, Habbo UK, was merged and that completed the set, making Habbo.com the only English speaking site.
In May 2014, Sulake released a Habbo application for the iPad.
Sexual content allegation
On June 12, 2012 concerns about the site were raised by Channel 4 News (United Kingdom). A two-month investigation found users posting pornographic and violent messages – despite the fact that Habbo is intended for young teenagers. A reporter posing as an 11-year old girl claimed that explicit sex chats were common within minutes of logging on to the service, which she described as "very sexual, perverse, violent, pornographic." As a result of the allegations, Sulake immediately suspended all chat on the service. Speaking in a blog post, chief executive of Sulake, Paul LaFontaine, said that the firm "was reviewing the long-term plans for the Habbo community". The chat services were reinstated on June 20. Two leading investors, Balderton Capital and 3i, withdrew their funding from Sulake, and some UK retailers stopped selling Habbo gift cards.
Various pieces of information are on Habbo's website that do not appear in the Hotel itself. The community section of the website features the official Habbo social media feed as well as a page for the 'Official' Habbo fansites - sites which support Habbo and post news about the website. Safety tips, the 'Habbo Way', Parents Guide as-well as staff-written articles also appear on the website. The website has seen over five different versions. Over the past three years, the website has become more integrated with the hotel. Before 2006, users logged in on the hotel, now they log in via the website, which links them to the hotel.
This is a feature allowing users to customize their own web page displayed on the website, colloquially named Habbo Home. The web page can be accessed from inside the hotel, and allow for user interaction with the home page of the user, as well as interaction within the Hotel. The web pages are displayed with the user's character appearance and motto. Users can customize their web page with a selection of widgets, stickers and backgrounds. Various widgets, stickers and backgrounds can be purchased with credits to add to the small default range of features.
Habbo's main feature is the "Hotel", and consists of a client made using Adobe Flash technologies. The Hotel can be accessed by logged-in users via the Habbo Homepage. When a user accesses the Hotel they are brought to a screen colloquially known as Hotel View. From this screen, members can contact one another via the Habbo Chat, which acts as the main form of communication throughout all areas of the Hotel, and use the Navigator to navigate their way to a chat room. Originally, communication was conducted through the Habbo Console, which was recently replaced by Habbo Chat and by Habbo Mail, which is accessible via the Habbo Homepage.
Public Rooms are rooms which are available to all members. They often depict scenes such as restaurants, cinemas, and dance clubs. Most Public Rooms contain automated robots which shout pre-recorded messages and can give members drinks and food items. Public rooms are designed by Sulake and are not customizable by users. Some rooms used to contain games called Battle Ball, SnowStorm, Wobble Squabble and diving, but these games were removed due to coding issues when they upgraded from Shockwave to Flash.
In June 2011, most Official rooms were removed from the hotel. The popular games BattleBall and SnowStorm were replaced with Freeze and Battle Banzai to coincide with the new Flash client. By buying certain furni, players can build their own rooms for other players to play these games. In December 2011, SnowStorm made a return to Habbo in the new Flash client.
Guest Rooms are special rooms which users can customize to endless lengths with Habbo Furni, wallpaper and floor patterns, which can be purchased with credits. Users can also choose from a range of room templates that determine what shape the room is. Guest rooms can be created by any member and can be locked to allow access only to specific users or password holder. Many users create their own games in their guest rooms, which give furniture or coins as a prize. These rooms are categorized on the navigator in many categories such as "Trading", "Parties", and "Role Playing". Virtual pets can be bought and kept in Guest rooms. Users can interact with the pets, which will obey certain commands as long as they are kept happy and fed.
Users can access games made by Habbo to earn achievement badges and furniture prizes. The first major games to be introduced into the hotel were Wobble Squabble, BattleBall and SnowStorm. In 2009, all three games were removed in preparation for the hotel's move from the Shockwave to the Flash client. SnowStorm made a return to Habbo in December 2011, and a new Fast Food game was introduced in June 2012. In September 2012, the Habbo Speedway was launched, followed by the Habbo Pix in October 2012.
There are 3 main types of currency on Habbo. Credits (or coins) which are used to buy furniture in the catalogue and Duckets (free currency earned by completing achievements such as logging in X days in a row) which enables users to buy effects and 'Rentable furni' (furniture to decorate rooms for a period of time, before it is then removed). Diamonds are used to buy rewards such as rare furniture items or Habbo Club and are gained by buying credits. As well as that, seasonally themed currencies (E.g.: "Snowflakes" for Christmas) are given out to players by staff for completing certain quests which can then be used to buy seasonal Furni for a short time.
Credits, (also called Coins on some hotels) can be purchased using a variety of different services, such as credit card, a telephone service, a Ukash card and via SMS. They can also be redeemed into Exchange, which displays the Credits as an item of virtual furniture; the furniture can then be traded among users, and redeemed back into Credits. Users can join Habbo Club (HC), which is a premium subscription purchased using Credits. Features of Habbo Club membership include a badge, new selections for a player's avatar, new room designs, and a free piece of furni exclusive to club members every month. In April 2010, a new group called VIP was implemented, which has upgraded many of the features of HC, and costs more credits.
Duckets are part of a new Habbo currency which were introduced in February 2013. Users earn Duckets by completing certain achievements and quests.
The Duckets currency can be used to purchase effects, room promotions, rentable furniture and even as far as pets to enhance the style of rooms with wallpaper, flooring and landscapes.
Diamonds are a new currency on Habbo. It was introduced in early July 2014. Diamonds are received through purchases of Credits with real money. Diamonds are used to buy Habbo Club, buy rare furniture items or they can be redeemed for credits in furniture form.
Habbo's parent company Sulake employs 225 moderators, tracking some 70 million lines of conversation globally every day, blocking inappropriate users and filtering links to black-listed sites.
Sulake also works with child safety organizations and local police forces to address inappropriate behavior. Habbo’s moderation and safety systems were recognized as making the service one of the safest social networks in a 2011 European Commission report. In 2011, Habbo was also awarded the commendation of ‘Safer by Design’ from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). Sulake encourages users to take responsibility for reporting any abuses on the site, providing education and rapid-response support to users who may experience uncomfortable conversations.
As well as working within the Habbo online community, Sulake actively contributes to campaigns like Insafe and Safer Internet Day on relevant user safety issues and collaborates in more than 30 charitable partnerships around the world to educate teens about a wide range of topics including safe internet use, the dangers of drugs, bullying etc. Partners include NSPCC (ChildLine), UNICEF, the Red Cross, Frank, Child Right, Power Child as well as many other market specific organisations.
Automatic moderation exists in Habbo's language filter, the "Bobba Filter", which replaces offensive text with the simple word "bobba". Replacement applies to anything from mild to highly offensive words, phrases, and websites. A feature added on February 27, 2008, enables users to turn the Bobba Filter on and off; with this feature enabled, however, users should not report to moderators any other users who may be using offensive language unless it's harassment of any kind. In December 2010, the word 'bobba' was replaced with the more internationally recognized '*****'.
From August 2000 to 31 December 2005, there existed a program for experienced members of each Habbo community to become a 'Hobba'. Hobbas were non-paid, volunteer moderators with limited powers that acted as Hotel Guides. On December 31, 2005, Sulake suspended the Hobba program due to major security issues and the rapidly growing Habbo community. It was decided that Habbo needed a stronger, more professional moderation team, that would be employees of Sulake. Following requests for the program to be revived, in June 2012, it was announced that modernized Hobbas, called Guardians, would be introduced into Habbo. These users will have limited moderation powers and will be closely monitored to ensure safety is not compromised.
In June 2012, a two-month investigation by Channel 4 News uncovered lapses in Habbo's online moderation, which subsequently led to withdrawals from two of the company's biggest investors. In response to the news, Habbo globally muted all chat, and launched "The Great Unmute", allowing users to express their views on the company's future, their experiences with Habbo, and their thoughts on the Channel Four News report. Following this, launching The Great Go-Live, Habbo lifted the chat restrictions for Finnish users to allow testing on a new safety system. Chat restrictions were then lifted for users in Brazil and Spain, followed by France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. A Parental Advisory Summit also launched, to allow parents and users the chance to answer how Habbo can deliver a safer experience, and influence what content children view on other social media platforms. Restrictions on chat were then lifted in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, and finally in the English hotel on 6 July 2012.
Habbo has been a frequent target for organized raids by Anonymous. In 2006, unsubstantiated rumors began circulating on 4chan boards regarding allegations of racist conduct by Habbo moderators and arbitrary banning of players with darker-skinned avatars. As a result, users signed up to the Habbo site dressed in avatars of a black man wearing a grey suit and an Afro hairstyle and blocked entry to the pool, declaring that it was "closed due to AIDS", flooding the site with internet sayings, and forming swastika-like formations. When the raiders were banned, they complained of racism.
As a website geared towards teenagers, Habbo often attracts sponsorship from outside entities and organizations. This sponsorship includes visits by musicians (such as The Veronicas, Gorillaz), Skye Sweetnam, Little Birdy, Stephanie McIntosh, Operator Please, Chingy, Evermore, Avril Lavigne, Ashlee Simpson, Dylan and Cole Sprouse, and more recently David Archuleta, Tokio Hotel, The Ting Tings, DJ Ironik, Alesha Dixon, The Take, Same Difference and Eoghan Quigg as well as various corporations. Sulake has also teamed up with Fremantle Media, the company that produces American Idol. Contestants that are voted out of the final 12 (final 13 this current season) were invited to the hotel for an interview following their departure from the show. American Idol furniture was also added to the hotel. Habbo has recently sponsored Night at the Museum 2 on Habbo UK releasing the rare "Golden Tablet" exclusively. Habbo AU has recently signed up with wrestling giant WWE holding events to win merchandise and live tickets to shows, featuring wrestler Dave Batista as a guest to Habbo AU. Most recently, Habbo has associated itself with the company DitchTheLabel which hosts various anti-bullying sessions on Habbo
In November 2001, The Daily Telegraph listed Habbo as a top-10 chat and instant messaging site, describing it as "great-looking" and "proving popular with teenagers." In 2005 and 2006, Habbo Australia received the NetGuide Online Web Award for "Best kids’/youth website". In September 2006, Sulake won Deloitte's Fast 50 competition.
Common Sense Media, a non-profit association advocating for children and families, and studying the effects that media and technology have on young users, reports that foul talk and sexy chat rooms dominate [this] virtual world, giving it one star on five and don't recommend it for kids of any age.
There are currently 12 websites in operation.
|English-language||habbo.com||May 5, 2010|
- "Habbo - Where else? - Sulake". Sulake. January 2007. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- "Habbo.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
- "HABBO HOTEL 2001 - 2002 CHANGES AND UPDATES". Habbo Ages. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Leslie Walker (2005-01-27). "Venture Capital Checks In To Habbo Hotel". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
- "Habbo Hotel: Chinese Market Too Challenging to Be Worthwhile". Virtual Worlds News. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Habbo Hotel US: News - Habbo.com + Habbo.ca Unite". Habbo. Jan 22, 2010.
- "Habbo: News - Bigger, Better, Awesome!". Habbo. April 8, 2010.
- "Habbo Hotel - News - Two Became One!". Habbo. May 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
- "Habbo Hotel - News - Getting Together". Habbo. June 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- "Habbo Hotel - News - Another Day Another Step Closer". Habbo. June 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- "Habbo Hotel - News - Together at Last!". Habbo. June 10, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
- "Habbo for iPad: Now in an App Store near you!". May 26, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- Striptease and cyber sex: my stay at Habbo Hotel, Channel 4 News, 12 June 2012
- Should you let your child play in Habbo Hotel?, Channel 4 News, 12 June 2012
- Habbo 'muted' following explicit sex chat claims, BBC News, 13 June 2012
- Habbo investor pulls out after 'explicit' sex allegations, BBC News, 12 June 2012
- Lafontaine, Paul. "The Great Unmute-The 24 hour countdown begins". Sulake. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Second Habbo Hotel investor 3i checks out, BBC News, 14 June 2012
- "Community". Habbo. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Sulake Press Releases". Sulake Corporation. 2007-02-01.
- "Habbo Club: For Your Habbo Home". Sulake Corporation Ltd. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
- Habbo (2011-12-12). "SnowStorm has arrived". Retrieved 2011-12-13.
- "Habbo Navigator". TinyPic. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Habbo US: News - Pets Have Returned". Sulake Corporation Ltd. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
- "Twitter / PaulLaFo: We launched the Fast Food game". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Habbo Speedway - Beta Live [FI]". Puhekupla. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Habbo Pix Comes to Habbo.com". Habbox. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Habbo Hotel - News - Habbo Club Gets Bigger and Better". Habbo. April 15, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
- "Duckets info". Retrieved 31 May 2014.
- Sulake :: Policing and Protecting the Habbo Community – a Message from the CEO
- Social networking & the European Commission: homepage | Europa - Information Society
- CEOP Commendation |
- "Habbo Hotel campaign on passwords". Insafe. May 9, 2011. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
- Habbo Hotel - News - To Bobba or Not to Bobba
- "Hobba - Information and Archives". Habbo Ages. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- "Twitter / PaulLaFo: @bubblejuice_org @MissyHynes". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Twitter / PaulLaFo: @Pandanized asked about". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Twitter / PaulLaFo: @Nothematic Yes Guardians a". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Bowater, Donna (2012-06-15). "Habbo Hotel investor pulls out over pornographic content claims". The Independent. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- Walker, Peter (2012-06-14). "Habbo Hotel: NSPCC urges government and technology industry to act". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- "Behind the Pixels". Blog.habbo.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Great Unmute | Express your views about Habbo". Greatunmute.habbo.com. 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Habbo - Parents Advisory Summit". Parentsummit.habbo.com. 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Twitter / PaulLaFo: @BronsHabbo Probably tomorrow". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Twitter / PaulLaFo: Habbos, the Scandinavians now". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Net users insist 'racist' sign is joke". KENS-TV. Archived from the original on 2008-08-24.
- Ryan Singel (September 19, 2008). "Palin Hacker Group's All-Time Greatest Hits". Wired. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- "Habbo: Celebrity Visits". Sulake Corporation. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
- "Sulake Press Releases - "Gorillaz live at Habbo Hotel"". Sulake Corporation. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
- "SkyeSweetnam.com - "Skye Chats LIVE on Habbo Hotel"". Archived from the original on 2006-05-22. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
- "Ditch The Label association". Retrieved 31 May 2014.
- "Top 10 sites: chat and instant messaging". Telegraph Media Group Limited. November 2001. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
- "NetGuide Australian Web Awards". NetGuide. Retrieved 2007-05-14.
- "Technology Fast 50/500". Deloitte. "(Finnish)"
- "Sulake wins Deloitte's Technology Fast50 competition". Sulake Corporation. 2005-09-15. Retrieved 2006-10-12.
- commonsensemedia.org Habbo (June 27th, 2012)
- "Habbo Hotel Launches in Turkey" (Press release). Sulake. August 8, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2014.