Quite a day for negative articles on Google. I counted 10 articles on Lively shutting down, with the usual suspects gloating and cheering from the sidelines. Won't be joining that crowd, it's never fun to see someone's work being thrown out the window. I did want to relate that to a bigger picture, though.

This certainly won't be the last shutdown among the 100+ virtual worlds projects under work right now, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see even higher-profile projects being canceled, either in the current financial bloodbath which curely will kill even some companies which 6 months earlier were entirely viable operations, or in the year to come when the business fails to materialize. Money's still being thrown in to the game at pretty amazing rate, and there's just not enough experience to go around to make all these projects work.

And that's because at the end of the day, this business is not about the brand, the IP, the coolest technology, or even the best user experience. Instead, this is about being able to nurture a community, co-operate with it to develop something which no one knows where it will ultimately end up at, and to be on the pulse of what's going on, every minute of every day. I know it's easy to forget that, with the allure of focusing on the superficial, easy to analyze product features, APIs, and so on.

We've certainly learned that the hard way ourselves - it's not like we've always kept our eye on the ball either. Still, you only need to be right most of the time, listen carefully, and not miss where you need to correct yourself. It's now been roughly a year since we launched a significant refresh to Habbo that put the service on the track its been on since, after what can be described only as a pretty horrible summer 2007 for us.

That was 12 months and 11 upgrades ago, though. Yesterday we launched what's internally called release 28 of Habbo in UK. The most exciting features of it haven't yet been turned on, as we're preparing yet another global roll-out to begin next week. This is an important release to us, possibly as important as the one made a year ago, as it'll change the economic and reward models of the community forever. I hope we got it right on this one. If we did, it's going to be an amazing Xmas, for us and for all the Habbos. If not, well, then we'll need to scramble a bit to make it fun anyhow. But that's what we're good at.