Last Updated: October 12, 2015 13

Friendster: free online games

Found In: Games

Friendster is now a social entertainment and gaming site. Based now in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it was previously built in Silicon Valley with the support of substantial venture capital financing of about fifty million dollars as the first serious social networking site. In fact Friendster registered and held many patents fundamental to the concept of social networking originally. What started as an explosively growing business as the first of its kind in social networking web sites back in 2002, long before the advent of MySpace and Facebook, Friendster soon hit trouble through mismanagement of its rampant growth and by not providing for its hardware infrastructure needs.

Friendster Invented Social Networking

In its first incarnation, it was built around users exchanging content and multi media, with pictures and it was mostly considered a form of dating web site.

The sheer volume of growth was not expected, and the servers were ground down to pitiful performance levels and pages would typically take over a minute to load up in people’s web browsers. Even with the founders being ousted and new management put in place, it was all too late and the social networking service never recovered and Facebook and MySpace quickly over took the lead in the social networking market place. The founders were smart enough to think of it, but not professional enough to build it to full scale.

Comparing this disaster to Facebook, where the founder there only opened up the Facebook service to the best universities first, and only allowed new campuses online when there were sufficient new servers in place to cope with the expended rush of new member, Friendster was more akin to amateur hour in the beginning, despite having tens of millions of dollars more capital than Facebook did.

Friendster Specialized in Social Gaming

After it was bought by Malaysian company MOL Global at the end of 2009, Friendster has since been launched again in 2011, as a social gaming site, the company now mostly serves people from Asian countries. The Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore are now the main users of the gaming service, and local languages are all catered for in the newly launched gaming centric version of Friendster. What were mostly younger United States members have let their membership lapse and moved on to more function and better performing sites like Facebook and MySpace.

And under the professional business management of the Malaysians, the number of registered Asian users has reached a total of over 115 million people. And it is little wonder that MOL Global was attracted to the purchase, given 2008 visitor data showed that more than ninety per cent of traffic was already coming from Asia.

MOL Global is a leading online payment services provider and its network leverages over six hundred thousand payment channels across the world. Using this muscle, they have introduced the Friendster Wallet. This wallet system enables micro spending by the more than one hundred and fifteen million registered users. The Friendster Wallet can process prepaid cards, mobile phone payments, other forms of online payment and also credit card payment. That is, users can add funds to their wallet, and then draw down from their wallet in tiny increments for the paid services that they use.

Given that Friendster is now a gaming platform, it has partnered in with game developers for the content. Publishers related to the gaming market have also been made to feel welcome to reach out to the massive user base. It all comes down to the sheer scale of the user base, linked to the gaming content they want, supported by the platform owned by the payments system. Whilst only about ten per cent of registered users have paid money into the Friendster Wallets, that still accounts for a very large amount of money. And gamers are loyal if nothing else, with reports of thirty per cent of users averaging about forty five minutes every day on the site. It being a very young user audience, these people will continue to be loyal to the web site as they mature into adults; such is the nature of what6 kids do when they grow up.

Developers can reach out to the Friendster team easily, and deals for premium paid content are done all the time. Many developers in fact offer their content free of charge for some time, to build up an interest in their content which can be harvested later for premium users who then love the particular game and choose to pay for the newer version of it. Gamers have always been clannish in their behaviors, and they have the on site forum and blog to communicate through with other like minded gamers, and to even build up their own game specific language. Such collections of teams of people, often from different countries and cities who can therefore only play via the Friendster platform, they tend to have a culture of being inside a club inside the overall membership. And it is this “clannish”, territorial nature of gamers that bonds them to Friendster. Now it is a professionally managed business, we can be sure that Friendster the social gaming business web site will be around for a very long time indeed.

With its power and dominance throughout Asia, from the Philippines to India and the middle eastern countries, where more than half the world’s population reside, I personally won’t be surprised to see Friendster hitting one billion users in perhaps ten years’ time. And even though this part of the world is growing serous economic power, even if the platform never increases paying members by the current level of ten per cent of users, that means it will probably have one hundred million paying customers ten years from now. More likely is that with increased affluence, and a maturing user base, the revenue potential of Friendster has no real upper limits to its potential. As long as they don’t revisit to failed launch problems of Friendster Mark I.