Veteran Habbo hits 80m avatars, but virtual worlds are now a bigger game

Habbo has announced it now has 80 million created avatars inside its virtual world. Finland-based Sulake Corporation launched Habbo in 2000 and it remains something of a Virtual World 1.0 aimed at teenagers. But it has since grown into 31 country sites across five continents. About 75,000 members join each day with each user spending 32 minutes per site visit, says Sulake.

Founded by CEO Sampo Karjalainen and CTO Aapo Kyrölä initially as a non-commercial project, the site has done well to become a vehicle for youth brands to market digital gifts inside the system. But here’s a reality check – Habbo may have had 80 million avatars created inside it but it only gets 6m unique users a month, according to Nielsen Netratings.

Shareholders in Sulake include Taivas Group, Elisa Group, 3i Group plc, and Benchmark Capital followed by Movida Group (in Japan). Sulake released the figures at the The Virtual World Forum, the first European conference on virtual worlds, running in London this week.

Habbo has long since been overtaken however as a leader in its field however and there is now an explosion of interest in virtual worlds.

Techdigest is doing some live blogging from VWF today and has a nice run-down of the alternatives so far including:
MTV’s Virtual Worlds The Hills, Pimp My Ride, and The Real World
vSide is aimed squarely at music fans, with over 50 in-world radio stations, 600,000 streaming songs, and bands playing virtual gigs in various venues
Whyville is aimed at children but avoids 3D in favour of a history and educational focus
Entropia Universe is pat virtual world, part MMORPG with micropayments and virtual banks
Zwinktopia is a cartoonish virtual world where you dress up your character with new clothes and accessories
Club Penguin is aimed at young kids bought by Disney for $350 million in August this year
Weblo is a place where you buy property and assets
• PlayStation Home is Sony’s attempt to bring virtual worlds onto the console
There predates Second Life and now runs has deals with music companies, but also sells it technology to the US military