Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sulake Extends HABBO Payment Network to Philippines

Good news but long overdue on Sulake extending its prepaid card payment method reach in Southeast Asia. What is even more interesting but disappointing is how Sulake with its HABBO franchise has dropped the prepaid card opportunity in other markets like US, Canada, France and Spain by doing extremely odd things like promoting Premium SMS over this clearly superior payment method. Not to mention its failure to capitalize on its extensive prepaid payment network to commercialize IRC Galleria more fruitfully. PaymentGuy will be blogging more about that in the near future so stay tuned. Anyway, the story on the Philippines expansion; "Singapore-based video game distributor New Era Digital Interactive Media Inc. is refreshing its business in the Philippines in measured steps, as it prepares to introduce two online games in the coming weeks. The company is also preparing to launch two “huge titles” that will target gamers in Internet cafes, the company said. Allan Carbonell, newly appointed New Era Digital Interactive Media country manager, told hackenslash that the company will introduce the virtual social networking game Habbo, owned by Finnish firm Sulake Corporation, soon. The game, which plays like the first Philippine online game OZWorld, uses configurable avatars to represent account owners. Players can open their own pages called Habbo Homes and customize these with widgets, stickers and backgrounds. They can also form group pages where members can lounge. Just like any other social networking sites, Habbo has “virtual hotel rooms” where players can communicate with other avatars. Habbo is touted as one of the most popular social networking sites. It has over 100,000,000 registered users worldwide with 9.5 million unique visits per month. Most users are between 13 and 18 years of age. Carbonell said New Era will distribute and promote the game in the Philippines but the game will be hosted in Singapore. “By September we’re introducing prepaid cards for players of Habbo. These will be in denominations of P50 and P100. These will allow them to buy items and virtual furniture but the game itself will be free-to-play,” he said. Apart from Habbo, the company will also distribute boxed online game, called “Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures,” which is similar to online game “Guild Wars” already distributed in the country. Carbonell said that the company is in the process of opening up an office in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

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