Sulake, developer of the successful younger teen-oriented virtual world Habbo Hotel, recently launched Bobba, a virtual world for smartphones.
But Sulake is not stopping there – speaking to Gamasutra, Sampo Karjalainen, Sulake co-founder and CCO mentioned that “We’re working on an iPhone version that should come out hopefully this summer,” which was recently hinted at - but the company will also bring the virtual world to PC.
Bobba targets an older demographic than Habbo’s 13-16 year old main demographic. The virtual world, which is similar in concept to Habbo, currently runs on certain Nokia smartphones, and aims for a demographic of age 16 and older, providing a place where users can meet, date, party, work together, and otherwise network socially.
Users can create their own spaces, providing “a few more possibilities than Habbo,” for building and customization.
In order to create a mobile virtual world, “We’ve been running this sort of research project called Mini Friday,” said Karjalainen. Mini Friday is a public research project which investigated the possibilities of a mobile virtual world. The company launched it at the end of 2006, just to learn how people would actually want to use virtual worlds on mobile phones, and built the game based partially on this data.
“After some months we got a lot of users from specialized regions like Indonesia, and Brunei, and Russia,” he said. “Now with Bobba, we’re trying to turn it into a commercial project. Instead of focusing on – like in Habbo we focus on the public spaces – here we try to focus on the users, and the user spaces.”
Bobba is in a really early beta phase, and the functionality is still quite limited, Karjalainen admits. However, “Of course I can say that we’re not planning to limit this only to mobile phones,” he expanded. "In the future it will also be for the PC platform market.”
The space should work the same way basically on both PC and mobile, allowing users to communicate from their phone with those playing on their PCs. Offhand, Karjalainen mentioned that Sulake's products could also potentially be adapted to consoles.