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Hi5 Launches Social Games

Offering is aimed at 61 million users worldwide.
The 61 million members of social networking site Hi5 can now play games with friends and others in the community.

The global social networking site launched Hi5 Games on Thursday, saying the new games are part of its overall strategy to engage and entertain users while allowing them to interact with each other and meet new people. Hi5 is available in more than 50 languages and it ranks as the most popular social network in more than 30 countries.

"For our target audience of 15- to 24-year-olds, social gaming represents a major expenditure of time and money around the globe," Ramu Yalamanchi, founder and CEO of Hi5, said in a statement released Thursday. "Hi5 Games is just one of a range of immersive features that will further engage our users, both keeping them on the site longer and driving them towards new forms of monetization for our business."

The games are available immediately. Users can use Hi5's virtual currency, or Hi5 coins, to buy premium content, advanced gaming features, and status upgrades. Gamers also can use integrated messaging, issue challenges, and invite others to play a variety of casual sports, arcade, strategy, and card games.

The social networking site announced that it plans to add new games every month. The site's first 42 social games include Mahjong, pool, and Disco Bowling. Advertisers will be able to use the worldwide gaming channel to engage users through social entertainment.

ComScore counted 86 million Web-based casual gamers in December 2008. That represents a 27% increase over December 2007.

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