The whole economic story can be re-told, from a different perspective, by having a look at the stated goals for the company, throughout the years. Focus shifted a bit at times. Besides quoting their stated strategics, we’ll link that to the products developed over the years, all collected in the Attic.
Early years were all about pleasing other companies. "Sulake is happy to talk with you about creating an unique user experience for your customers, using our robust and proven technology and expertise." Mobiles was behind them, Lumisota still online, Kultakala and Habbo launched (first international hotels, besides UK, for/corporation with other companies). We're not sure Mchat ever got online for real (only found it in a testbed setting), but they had new products lined up. We'll probably never be sure how much, but at least one chat (SOCK), two games (Urjala and Boombastica!) and a corporate meeting tool with presentation tools included. Common characteristics: for hire, customizable and to be included in your own online presentation. None of them got released, as focus turned to Habbo, or rather, the Goldfish concept got a chance to be exported to first UK, later Switzerland in 2001, and Habbo was a fact.
Up till 2005, Habbo is just a product; their main product, but the company was still open for suggestions. Like two multi-million companies wanting a product like Habbo totally customized to their own needs - Coke Music (Coca-Cola, started in 2002, released 2003, end of relation 2004) and Virtual Magic Kingdom (Disney, released 2005, probably started in 2004). No strategic aims mentioned on the homepage, just "Sulake is the developer of Habbo Hotel and other massively-multiplayer online games". In 2003, 4 new hotels opened, 2004, 8 new hotels. We're guessing management concluded, it's growing/working, but not profitable yet, we need some more direction.
So, in 2005, Sulake was past their commitments for other companies (besides some service work for VMK). "Our strategic aim is to build Habbo into a new type of youth brand which is anchored in the largest online teen community. The Habbo brand will also extend to include mobile games and content, animation series and merchandising products." Not exclusively though: "We are also looking to broaden our product portfolio with other kinds of game and community concepts for new target audiences". Difference here, we're gonna develop new products, but not for any 3rd party, but for ourselves. They sorta add two notes to that:
Well, 3 new hotels added in 2006, and loads of applications/games for mobile phones being developed. Probably the first was Habbo Islands for Nokia N-gage platform. A lot of resources must have been put into it, really extensive gameplay, and it got cancelled (by Nokia). A series of more simple games got released though (Habbo Dreams, Arcade games, Habbo Creatures and more general mobile accessories), while others got cancelled by Sulake itself (Tonga's adventure/Animator3000). Also, the attempt to create a movie ('Snouthill' project) was announced, but not taken into production or just not completed.
By the end of 2006, it seems Sulake concluded cost/profit balance wasn't working for time being. At same time, a different kind of mobile app was being tested, Mini Friday, virtual world on mobile phones. This seemed to be succesful.
Tiny addition in 2007: "Our focus is on virtual worlds, casual multiplayer games and social networking." They just acquired IRC-Galleria, local Finnish social networking site (think Facebook). Easy addition to the portfolio, and with Minifridays' follow-up planned that portfolio was getting filled. Took a while, but Bobba Bar got released November 2009, and IRC-Galleria got a facelift and was tested internationally. Just speculating, but it seems they are struggling to get some profit out of Bobba Bar (untested in Mini Friday, that was a temporary, totally free application), might have to grow a little first. Same struggle for Habbo itself, that got streamlined (less hotels, less staff, more frequent update schedule (with more campaigns/features/furniture). Conclusion, finally mature, and profitable. One of many things done to get it (this) successful was integration with social media, in particular Facebook. Which had a negative side-effect on development of IRC-Galleria.
So what does it say, early 2011 ? "Sulake is a social entertainment company focused on online social places and games. Our goal is to inspire playful interaction and self-expression in people by creating easy to use social online services." Strategically, about the same. At the same time "This year, our focus will be 100 percent on growing Habbo Hotel into an even bigger and more engaging social game and community for teens around the world. New social games and features inside Habbo Hotels and Habbo mobile apps, in particular, are a significant growth opportunity for us this year." They even forget mentioning Bobba Bar. Or do they ? Press images of Bobba Bar not in image bank anymore, no mentioning it in company profile - the only actual linking to it to be found in old press releases. Habbo really is gonna get that focus, seems Bobba Bar is getting some time to grow on itself. And there's a little note ending the press release (last quote came from) mentioning IRC-Galleria being sold (back) to its developers…
Just when you think you have Sulake figured out though, they do the unexpected. Well, above specifically mentions mobile apps. Still, we didn't see Lost Monkey coming. Mobile app, but gameplay looks as advanced as Habbo Islands was. Not the only similarity, it's also tied in with hotel itself, features same style (besides awesome trailer/screens with vector graphics) etc. Difference, finishing you end up with rewards inside hotel, common platform, and there's the option to speed up game with micro-payments. This might not be the last of these. To be continued.