Remember MIRC or ICQ? Perhaps not. What about Friendster? More likely so. It was the top social networking websites in the world until MySpace and Facebook came along and caused the downfall of Friendster. All the messages, testimonials and uploaded photos of all the user accounts were completely erased from the database in 2011 to make way for a brand new approach and it is now complete. The fully revamped Friendster was launched in Manila Philippines last month before the re-launch media conference in Malaysia was held on Thursday (17 May) at Apartment KLCC. The former great online social networking site is now redesigned as a social discovery and gaming platform that aims to offer users social gaming experience like never before.
Nikolai Galicia (left in the photo), CEO of Friendster, Inc., and Ganesh Kumar Bangah, Group CEO of MOL Global (current owners of Friendster), were at the conference to announce and share about their relaunched website. According to the MOL Global Group Chief Executive Officer, their objective was never to challenge Facebook but instead to provide users a portal where they could getaway from being who they are in the real world and just play social games, have fun, discover new things, meet new friends, and be their true selves. He added that Friendster users won’t need to worry that their bosses and colleagues finding out that they’re gaming during working hours unless they were added as friends, something which is probably inevitable on Facebook. The targeted demographic is ages 15 to 25.
Many Malaysians, including myself, thought that it was a stupid idea for MOL, a local company, to purchase Friendster at such a high price (US$26.4 million) but they’ve now shown why they made the move and I have to say it’s pretty impressive. Friendster is now basically a website that provides free-to-play online games to user without requiring them to install anything. Users can conveniently log in their accounts with Facebook connected on their browser, and use MOLPoints to top-up in-game money, otherwise known as Friendster Coins here. It currently has quite a number of game titles and it will definitely increase in time. I haven’t actually played any of them at home yet but I admit that I am very tempted to give it a try.
As you can see in the photo above, they even have MMORPG game(s). How cool is that! No registration or program installation hassles. Just log on to the website (www.friendster.com) and play it all. From what I had observed, the only downside of it all at the moment is that the games don’t look very original. Their most popular game, Boomz, is basically Gunbound with other very familiar character designs. However, despite the lack of non-ripoffs, I believe the concept can still be very appealing to Asians, particularly South East Asians. They just need to hope that they’d be able to have more unique and interesting games to offer soon.
|The hot emcee of the Friendster re-launch media conference.|
Besides the website, Friendster also launched Friendster Hotspots, the free WiFi providers at a few popular retail outlets, and Friendster iCafe, a cybercafe management software during the conference.