MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Friendster is back. This time as a redesigned and reinvented "social discovery and gaming platform".
Friendster became a popular social networking site in the Philippines back in the early 2000 before Facebook came.
"We were able to successfully redesign Friendster to become a social discovery and gaming platform," Ganesh Kumar Bangah, Chief Executive Officer of MOL Global, which bought Friendster back in 2009, said in a statement at the relaunching of Friendster Wednesday.
The redesigned Friendster allows user to "discover new friends, play games, and enjoy rewards," Bangah said. It aims to help people make new friends instead of connecting them with their present friends, he said.
Mikhail Nikolai Galicia, Friendster's Chief Operating Officer, said that "the Philippines has always been one of our biggest markets with a vibrant online community, making the country exceptionally important to us."
There are over 50 online games in eight genres currently available on Friendster, and they will be adding more at the rate of at least one game every week, Bangah said.
Galicia said that they were "very, very focused on the gaming community" and that they have established partnerships with over 100 third-party online game developers to continuously provide them with fresh new games.
He said that the new Friendster was "clean, easy to use, and fun because simplicity is in the heart of what we do."
A user can immediately start playing games on Friendster even without registering for an account through the guest login feature. All the progress they have achieved and rewards they gained in any of their games can be saved so they won't have to start over again, Galicia said.
Rewards are gained through activities like logging in daily, playing games, and inviting friends, he added.
"Any moment you do something in Friendster, the rewards system kicks in," he said.
Users can also login using their current Facebook account, he said.
There are a vast number of online avatars available allowing each user to have several online personas instead of using their own identities to play games, Bangah said.
He said that unlike Facebook where people used their real identity, with their network being their family, friends, colleagues, etc, Friendster allowed users to have several different identities for different games.
"We feel that players always have different characters and moods, [so there will be] different avatars per game [using] any name you like," Galicia said.
On Facebook, if you play games, you could end up playing with your boss, Bangah said. But on Friendster, the games allow people to discover new friends through the games, he added.
Friendster is also currently being developed to make it available on mobile platforms and to allow for cross-platform games so that a user can play the same game on the mobile and on the PC, Bangah said.
The games on Friendster will be free to play but there will be many optional aspects of games that require a virtual currency known as Friendster coins.
"Friendster coins can be bought with real currency through various payment methods," Galicia said. The virtual currency can be purchased through internet cafes and e-load outlets throughout the country.
The Friendster coins can be used to purchase virtual goods, online games and applications, Galicia said.
He said that there would be an "online wallet" to keep track of all transactions made by a user.
Friendster has over 100 million registered users, 40 per cent of which comes from the Philippines, Bangah said.
Old Friendster users who used to post bulletins and write testimonials would find something completely different in Friendster. And they might just love it.