Launched in 2003 by Ramu Yalamanchi, hi5 has over 60 million active users. Hi5 is the third most popular social networking website according to comScore. hi5 will be launching a gaming section today that will allow their users to engage in sports, strategy, cards, and arcade. hi5 Games will become a way to monetize the social network through the use of virtual currency. Users would be able to buy virtual gifts with real currency. These virtual gifts can be traded to access premium features within the gaming section. hi5 also believes that advertisers would be able to better engage to targetted audiences in the gaming section.
This strategy is very similar to Yahoo! Games and Facebook. First Yahoo! started building an extensive user-base and then they started offering them games and music. I give hi5 credit for exploring alternative ways to monetize rather than just advertising. Facebook started a social networking trend for the trading of gifts and it is working well for them. This is why I have no doubt that it will work favorably for hi5 as well. If you already have the user base, keep feeding them more.