Sulake, the Finnish company behind the successful Habbo Hotel, has opened up Bobba to public beta. Bobba is a mobile only virtual world and is in very early stages of adoption. I was the 113th registered user on the site. This is something we heard of a while back with Sulake’s report on their 2008 profit.
The signing up is done through the mobile application that all users have to download. The service is mobile only, so this is understandable – they want to have as many active accounts as possible. If people can’t use and register through the mobile app account, they’re less likely to use the virtual world at all. Before signing up, you need to download the mobile phone app though.
You have two ways of downloading the app, through the computer browser or the mobile phone. If you wish to go for the latter, you enter your mobile phone number and Sulake will send an SMS with a link to the app. I took this route and even though the service is still in beta, it gets some criticism from me for loading up the regular website that wasn’t optimised at all for a mobile phone. When you’re building a mobile virtual world – mobile’s should be in the centre of the user experience.
Once you have downloaded the application, you can register and create your own avatar. The process is relatively straightforward and there’s nothing new to learn if you’re familiar with Habbo Hotel for example. Once you’re setup with your avatar you’re ready to move on and the next obvious step is to create your own space, ie. room. You can choose from a set of ready templates as a room or create one yourself from a blank room.
I did have a chat with some of the other Finnish users in the service and liked the way the chatting worked. Unfortunately, that is then again pretty much the only thing I really liked in the service. It works extremely smoothly and without any problems, but then again – it’s the way things should work. The real downside I felt, that is still understandable – is the flow in the service; what do I do once I have set up my room, how do I find friends (I was unable to friend any of the other users), how do I decorate my room?
I guess I’m too eager – the service is in its early public beta, but this in my opinion is what the average user will probably see in the service.