Friendster’s back (again), looks to casual gaming and micropayments to survive

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It used to be that everyone had a Friendster account before Facebook steamrolled all the other social networks way back when. Now the former social network site is back, and promises to deliver a richer, casual gaming experience and connect you to like-minded players.

We’ve covered most of the new features before, so we’re going to mention the changes that we see now. The user interface is a bit cleaner now, and allows you to connect to the site using Facebook Connect. There’s now a global leaderboard for games, and more games on tap. Speaking of games, Friendster says that there are now 50 games on tap on the device, which we assume will grow as the service goes on.

One of the strengths of Friendster is that the company is owned by MOL, a technology company that has a number of payment services around the world, which makes it easy for people to pay for items in the games. which is powered by what the company calls Friendster coins. Friendster coins do a number of things within the games, such as buying premium items within the games themselves.

A lot of this sounds familiar – because a lot of this has already been done in a bigger and larger scale by Facebook and it’s casual gaming partners like Zynga. The only edge that Friendster has over the social game behemoth Zynga is that Friendster has more payment avenues open for local payments, but that particular edge can only last for so long – Zynga and by extension, Facebook will expand their payment gateways sooner or later, especially if demand starts to pick up.

For their part, Ganesh Kumar Bangah, Co-founder and group CEO for MOL said that Friendster offers a more anonymous social gaming experience, without blaring out to all your Facebook friends your game activities until you wish to actually tell them, something that Facebook games are guilty of. Ganesh also mentioned that they’re looking into making Android and HTML 5 games for the mobile market. Games aren’t made by Friendster themselves, instead they are made by third party developers and Facebook provides community and payment management and has a 70-30 split in favor of the developer for any revenue made.