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By Alexander Villafania
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Singapore-based video game distributor New Era Digital Interactive Media Inc. is refreshing its business in the Philippines in measured steps, as it prepares to introduce two online games in the coming weeks.

The company is also preparing to launch two “huge titles” that will target gamers in Internet cafes, the company said.

Allan Carbonell, newly appointed New Era Digital Interactive Media country manager, told hackenslash that the company will introduce the virtual social networking game Habbo, owned by Finnish firm Sulake Corporation, soon.

The game, which plays like the first Philippine online game OZWorld, uses configurable avatars to represent account owners. Players can open their own pages called Habbo Homes and customize these with widgets, stickers and backgrounds. They can also form group pages where members can lounge.

Just like any other social networking sites, Habbo has “virtual hotel rooms” where players can communicate with other avatars.

Habbo is touted as one of the most popular social networking sites. It has over 100,000,000 registered users worldwide with 9.5 million unique visits per month. Most users are between 13 and 18 years of age.

Carbonell said New Era will distribute and promote the game in the Philippines but the game will be hosted in Singapore.

“By September we’re introducing prepaid cards for players of Habbo. These will be in denominations of P50 and P100. These will allow them to buy items and virtual furniture but the game itself will be free-to-play,” he said.

Apart from Habbo, the company will also distribute boxed online game, called “Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures,” which is similar to online game “Guild Wars” already distributed in the country.

Carbonell said that the company is in the process of opening up an office in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

By September, the company will be announcing two “big titles” that will be available through Internet cafes, though these games will be available by the end of the year.

“New era is coming in measured steps. We don’t expect our initial games to make a huge impact but before the end of the year, we’re introducing these big games,” Carbonell said.

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