'Heroes' hops on to Habbo's virtual world
If you haven't heard of Habbo, you're probably older than 16. Among younger teens, Habbo is one of the more popular virtual hangouts on the Web, with about 2.8 million unique U.S. visitors in December, up 110% over a year earlier, according to ComScore.
That's why NBC Universal struck a deal with Habbo's Finnish developers, Sulake, to drum up interest in the show "Heroes." NBC is introducing a new spin-off character there named Syn Anders. Though she doesn't appear on "Heroes" itself, she'll be Habbo residents' virtual guide to the series, assigning players with quests and puzzles that mirror the show as it continues into its third season.
"This will help us reach a younger audience than we currently have on our website," said Stephen Andrade, general manager of NBC.com. NBC sees the Web as a way to promote its shows, Andrade said, but also as a way to generate advertising revenue for online content, such as its "Heroes" webisodes.
The deal gives Habbo a direct connection to the "Heroes" franchise and helps make the free-to-play game stickier, said Teemu Huuhtanen, head of Sulake's U.S. operations in Santa Monica. Huuhtanen said Habbo, which recently signed a similar deal to integrate "American Idol" into its virtual world, will be making more of these arrangements in the coming months.
-- Alex Pham
Photo credit: Sulake