After dealing with a child sex scandal earlier this year, Sulake – the owners of the social teen hangout Habbo Hotel – had to make some serious changes and win back the trust of the community. With that controversy mostly behind them (the company changed much of how it handles communications within the virtual world and added other features that protect its young members), the company says that it wants to make Habbo Hotel a place where third-party developers can launch their own game titles. That sounds like a good idea, but in order to do that it says it has to cut around 60 of its 130-employee strong workforce.
"Habbo is going back to its roots," the company said. "It has always been a place to meet and enjoy time with friends. We are going to focus specifically on the features and services that makes finding new friends and sharing with old friends enjoyable. This means new features, fresh themed entertainment and a variety of games […] The Sulake organization will be restructured to better serve the community needs."
Sulake employs around 130 people around the world with 90 employees in Finland. Redundancy consultations are already underway and will continue for the next six weeks. During that time chances are that many employees will be quietly sent packing…
On Monday Sulake CEO Paul LaFontaine said that this new platform approach was going to be the only way forward for the company and the service. Four games are already running on the new platform, but the company said that it will be very selective on what games it will offer and will rotate any games that do not perform to their satisfaction out of circulation as needed. As for Sulake, they plan on managing the virtual world's social features, virtual currencies and discovery.
"We’re now able to give a really good launch platform for games and other entertainment applications," LaFontaine told GIGA OM. "Last week we launched a game – one third of users of the site trialled the game on the weekend. When you can deliver that to a developer, that’s a great partnership. A small developer can launch on Habbo and be live in 12 countries and have global monetization capabilities right out of the box."
Source: GIGA OM