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Hi5 to support Facebook games

The social network-turned-gaming site has modified its APIs so that applications built on Facebook's platform can be transported over with minimal developer muscle.

Hi5, a social network that changed its focus to gaming relatively recently, announced Tuesday that it's built some code so that Facebook application developers can transport their creations to Hi5's platform with minimal effort. It's specifically targeting game developers, so that some of the smash-hit games built on Facebook can now wind up on Hi5.

This may sound familiar: Bebo, the social network eventually acquired by AOL, announced a similar plan to accept Facebook apps late in 2007, but it's unclear as to the extent it was actually executed.

"As a leading game distribution platform, it's our job to make the process of getting games live on Hi5 as easy and seamless as possible for our partners," Hi5 president Alex St. John said in a company release. "Now, developers who have designed and developed a social game for Facebook can easily get their game up and running on Hi5 with minimal development effort."

When building apps for a social-networking platform became all the rage after Facebook's developer platform debuted almost three years ago, there arose an industry-wide concern that there would be too many platforms, too many apps, and a profoundly messy environment as a result. Google launched an initiative called OpenSocial, which aimed to make these apps cross-platform, and pretty much every social-networking site signed on to the initiative--except Facebook. And ultimately, Facebook's platform was the far-and-away winner.

Hi5's developer platform is still based on the OpenSocial framework. The site used to be a fairly standard social network, gaining primary traction among youth markets in Latin America, before its executives chose to change the focus of the site to align it with the fast-growing social-gaming craze. Currently, it's working on broadening its global reach, and getting popular Facebook games on board is one step that the company's taking.