Dragon's Call on Friendster

Shocked? No. I expected Friendster to evolve. But I never thought it could become a game site. Friendster.com, the social networking site that used to be so popular in the Philippines, failed to catch up with the popularity of Facebook and eventually saw its defeat.

But there aren’t sad goodbyes for me. When I started with Friendster, I was one of those fellows who kept updating the wall with posts and adding friends into my growing list. I even started a blog — I believe it was Friendster that inspired me to pursue blogging seriously. As the list of friends grew and the desire to blog became addicting, Friendster started to lose its flicker. The site turned slower and slower each day. The interface became so boring that the moment you are logged in, you just wanted yourself out. In other words, Friendster’s fame was short-lived.

It was four years ago when I finally decided to end my friendship with Friendster. I stopped posting updates, photos, and blogs. It was also the time I opened a Facebook account. Facebook made me appreciate the goodness of social networking, something Friendster lacked. Once in a while, I visited Friendster to copy old pictures, and to pressure friends to stop using the site and move to FB. In those visits, I felt Friendster becoming a spam site — you know the kind when you are afraid to click on anything as it may be a virus.

So for four years, Friendster was a useless crap online. But little did I know, it was planning a major comeback in the form of a gaming portal. Read:

Dear fellow Friendster members,

As many of you may know, Friendster announced that it is re-launching itself as a social gaming portal and launched a beta version of the new Friendster a couple of weeks ago. The beta version was well received. I am pleased to announce that the new Friendster is going live thereby enabling all our users to login to the new Friendster using your existing Friendster username and password.

Friendster has touched the lives of many. Since MOL, the company I founded acquired Friendster in early last year; many people have come up to me to tell me how Friendster has changed their lives. Many have told me that they have found their life partners over Friendster. Just last week, a successful Internet entrepreneur in Singapore told me that her success was triggered by promoting her business on Friendster. Friendster pioneered social networking and ignited the social media industry that has created billion dollar companies such as Facebook and Twitter, companies that may not have existed in their present form if not for Friendster’s early innovation.

Today, Friendster is in a unique position to take advantage on the growth of social gaming. Through its relationship with MOL, which has a 10 year history in working with gaming companies, Friendster has both the experience and track record to make innovations in this space.

Today, as Friendster reinvents itself as a social gaming destination that enables its users to create multiple avatars, play games and enjoy rewards; I hope that all of you will wish us luck and continue to support us in our new reincarnation. The new Friendster is not perfect and we will continue to add new games and features such as localization and rewards over the next few months. Our team is working hard on adding these features and welcomes your suggestions and comments on how we can better serve your needs as a social gaming and entertainment destination.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support and hope that all of you will enjoy the new Friendster as Friendster continues to innovate to serve and entertain you better.

Yours truly,
Ganesh Kumar Bangah
Chief Executive Officer

It sounds like Friendster has acknowledged its loss to Facebook and Twitter.

I have already visited the new Friendster. It now loads faster compared to the old one. However, there are games that seem to have problems loading — like the Sudoku.

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Evolving as a game portal, is this the best move? It looks to me it is. If you visit the site, you see hundreds of members playing games. And with many kids playing online games these days (instead of studying their lessons and doing their school assignments), Friendster will always have players 24 hours.

Since I am not a fan of online games, I may leave my account idle for now. Maybe after four years, I could use it again when Friendster becomes a music site!