Happy Hotel Growing on Facebook – the Start of the Next Big Social Game Genre?

An interesting Chinese virtual space game called Happy Hotel showed up on our most recent list of the 20 applications that gained the most monthly active users in the past week.

Is this game — and no doubt, others that inspired it — a sign of social games to come? Market leader Zynga may think so, as the company recently trademarked the names Hotelville and Hotel World.

Made by a developer called Play Crab, Happy Hotel has steadily grown to 900,000 monthly active users since we began tracking it at the beginning of the year. In the game, the player runs their own personal hotel with the singular goal of building it up to be a successful business.

Although it seems to focus on the Chinese-speaking audience, the game’s English directions and tutorial were quite easy to comprehend (as far as translation goes) and the player is quickly on their way. Users start with four rooms: Three are for guests and one for the player’s customizable hotel owner.

Decorations are easily purchased and placed in a flat, 2D room (think Pet Society). What is interesting though is that the quality of furniture directly affects the value of a room per hour. As an example, a starting room may be worth 37 gold per hour. If the player adds some fancy décor, then it might be worth 50 gold an hour. Of course, that value is a moot point without a tenant to fill it and that’s where recruitment come into play.

After decoration is completed, it’s time to earn some coin the way a hotel manager should. Here is where the game starts to get a bit more complicated. In order to fill the room, you need a tenant, and this can be from one of three categories: Regular Guests, Celebrity, or Friends. Friends initially seem to be a random group of real Facebook users. The other two guest types are non-player characters (NPCs) that cost an initial fee (consider it an investment). The more expensive the character, the more of a room value percentage they will tip, and thus, the more money the hotel owner makes.

As a note, Regular Guests don’t really pay a whole lot in the beginning, but then again, when does any game have a high pay off when you first start playing?

As for celebrities, these NPCs are extraordinarily expensive, but they can earn the player photos that can be exchanged for much better furniture in a special store called the “Market” (rather than gold, special items are traded for here using medals earned in-game – like achievements, it seems – and celebrity photos). What is most amusing, though, is that celebrities can be anyone from any time, ranging from Confucius to Marilyn Monroe.

As players continue to play and take new actions, they also garner experience which eventually leads to new levels and new bonuses and privileges (such as increasing your hotel rating). This is where the game tends to get vague and really requires some play to figure out. Apparently, you can also be lodged, yourself, in other hotels as a major means of earning experience — somewhat like cleaning a friend’s fish tank or weeding their farm in other social games.

In Happy Hotel, the feature is logical considering that you can put friends in your rooms, but as was stated before, there are random other users within the in-game friends’ list that are not your current Facebook friends when the player starts out.

Going to another person’s hotel isn’t exactly at the forefront of the average users’ mind. The thought is more along the lines of “Who are these people?” Regardless, taking shelter in another player’s hotel takes some funds from you, but seems to earn you experience toward new levels in return.