Habbo has just celebrated its 2nd anniversary of what was called Habbo NFT, but that is no longer the case. In fact, Habbo is part of a growing trend to cleanse the dirtiness of crypto terminology that has long since been sullied, it seems.
Nearly two years ago to the day, I wrote the article Social Gaming Royalty, Habbo, Turns Attention to NFTs and It’s a Genius Move. This article was — as its title suggests — complimentary of Habbo’s move to embrace NFTs. The bulk of my motivation for this praise was twofold: timing and synergy.
Timing-wise, Habbo was capturing a younger audience again. It was at the height of PFPs which could now be used as avatars, it enabled some of the most popular NFT collections including Bored Apes, Crypto Punks, and Veefriends, and it was pushing all of this live before the turn of 2022 (smart).
In terms of synergy, Habbo has spent 20 years establishing what metaverse start-ups were trying to cobble together. The retrofitting of NFTs was, by comparison, significantly easier than building a fleshed-out social game with NFTs in it from the start.
One benefit that clearly underpins all of the above, however, is it capitalized on the buzz for NFTs; it even gave them utility and aimed at capitalizing on Play-to-Earn (P2E):
While we don’t want to talk about our plans in any concrete or confirmatory terms, we do see ourselves moving towards a broader adoption of blockchain technology and NFTs, and the gradual adoption of a play to earn experience in Habbo.
— Habbo roadmap, October 2021
Habbo NFT Rebrands to Habbo Collectibles: The New State of Play
This week, Habbo announced something new to the community: Habbo Collectibles. Only, it’s not new, it’s Habbo NFT with the initialism replaced. The explanation is as follows:
To make it easier for current and prospective players to understand what Habbo Collectibles are about – collecting and trading items in Habbo – in the majority of our marketing and communications we’ll be moving away from jargon like “NFT”, “web3”, “blockchain”, etc.
You might read that and think it would annoy me, but you’d be wrong. Well, mostly — “blockchain” is hardly jargon, but that’s not relevant here. This move is one we have seen performed by many games in the past few years. That is, games use euphemisms such as “digital collectible” to refer to NFTs. Not only have I been comfortable with this for the two years I’ve seen it happening, but I think it’s the right move.
The first game I can recall avoiding mentioning NFTs was Skyweaver and that was all the more unlikely given it was released when NFTs still had a lot of hype and the developers, Horizon, have their own platform and smart wallet! Nevertheless, at their booth at Gamescom 2022, people were playing the game for some time and were oblivious to the involvement of blockchain.
Since then, we have seen lots of newer games follow in the footsteps of Skyweaver. The most notable example would be NFL Rivals which has seen millions of downloads and unprecedented success for a web3 game, without many realizing that the NFL Rivals marketplace isn’t just P2P — it’s on chain.
Some may argue that this approach is subversive, but I’d disagree; this is what blockchain games need to be. Blockchain is merely a technology that can improve the experience for the players and the developers, it shouldn’t be a USP. It is also needlessly polarizing among gamers — a topic I discussed with the new CCO of The Sandbox this week. Blockchain can do its job in the background and players can focus on the game.
Undoubtedly, we will see criticism of Habbo and their decision to remove the crypto “jargon” from the game and rebrand Habbo NFT, and I admit, it feels a little bit like pandering in the way they explained the decision. But, ultimately, if it removes some of the friction while enabling a better experience for the player, I’m all for it.