So Friendster is back from the dead and they’re here to make you play online games.
Truth is, this is old news as the pioneering social network announced their shift from social networking into social gaming as late as last year. It’s only this 2012 that they’re making a huge marketing push bringing things like the “biggest gaming event” to SM North EDSA. I have some friends from the Level-Up eGames merger who will emotionally contest this claim.
I was seated at the back, analyzing the shift with Kevin who had previously worked with Level-Up! and we had a couple of conclusions:
- Friendster is owned by MOL, a cash-laden ePayment solution that also owns Multiply. From a business perspective, the move to social gaming was highly attributed to the connections of the owners to game developers and that’s really how elaborate it gets. So, from a business perspective, MOL is really just trying to find new ways for the Asean market to buy into their ePayment solutions whether it be social gaming (Friendster) or online shopping (Multiply).
- Friendster’s brand equity is still very strong that we tend to associate it still with Testimonials and the like. The truth is that there is nothing about today’s Friendster that resembles the once-dominant social network. There has to be a reason why MOL kept the brand name intact. Friendster is actually closer to a Zynga, although they don’t make their own games. They only create tie ups with their publishers.
- If social gaming is so big in the Philippines, there has not been enough studies that show this. Either it isn’t big or we lack studies.
- If I were Friendster, I’d invest more money in finding the “killer game” that everybody would want to play. Browse through the selection of 40 games and yes, you’ll find some decent ones, but nothing game changing. For instance — if, after the press conference they announced a browser-based Diablo III, then all bets are off. That’s it!
- The browser-based gaming market, although not a sunset product is being overshadowed with apps. If they can muster enough clout to bring in more publishers to build games on iOS and Android, their top-up system would live on. But again, quality games.
I really wish Friendster all the success. If they continue down this path they may be just another feather in MOL’s cap (which can easily be shut down if it doesn’t do well enough). Friendster is in good hands. It will make money but it is far from being the Internet darling it once was.