The social networking site Hi5, which pulls in 60 million unique visitors per month thanks to its success in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, is launching a games channel with community features.
On description alone, this appears to follow in the footsteps of Facebook, as both sites allow friends to track high scores and challenge each other in a variety of games. The difference, a spokeswoman explained to me, is centralization.
Hi5′s game page — accessed through a tab on top of the screen — resembles popular flash game sites like Miniclip and AddictingGames. You’re presented with a smattering of colorful, simple flash games like “Eek!” (read: Whack-a-Mole) and Skee-Ball. But unlike Facebook’s game apps, which require users to “allow access” before playing, Hi5′s offerings are immediately available to all registered users. All games on the site share a common scoring and challenging system, because Hi5 builds it into each game.
Monetization efforts are more in your face on Hi5 than they are on Facebook, featured prominently at the end of each game. In time, Hi5 will add premium games and in-game content as another source of revenue. Region-specific games and crowdsourced translations are also in the pipeline, both of which fall in step with the site’s global popularity.
Hi5′s setup and features remind me of another social networking site, Kongregate, which is geared exclusively towards gamers. Users there get Xbox-style Achievements and dedicated chat rooms for each game, plus the usual global and game-specific high score lists. Given that Kongregate has been around for a while, I’d choose that if I were looking to build a new community of fellow flash gamers. Hi5 might work best the other way around; if you’re already using it, and you want to get your friends in on some gaming, it seems like good times.