Hi5 is a social networking site where users can play games, interact with and befriend others virtually. Instead of limiting one's friends to those they know in real life, Hi5 encourages its users to grow their circle to more virtual friends and have fun doing it. It has many of the usual features of other social networking sites, where one can setup a their own profile page, create an avatar, show off photos, hobbies and make new friends. Profiles can be completely customized much like MySpace, so it can represent the user's personality. The site was redesigned in 2009 with a more intense focus on entertaining its users and offering them many games and activities that they can play. In 2010, Hi5 opened itself to new game developers to offer its users a ton of variety in new apps and activities.
Hi5 is based out of San Francisco, CA and was founded in 2003. As of December 2011, Hi5 is the 6th largest online gaming site. It launched in 2003 and spread like wilfire. By 2008, comScore announced that Hi5 was the third most visited social networking site based on unique visitors. Hi5 is a truly global application with users in over 200 countries and versions in over 50 languages. It is particularly popular in countries in Latin America and Portugal, Romania and Thailand. Hi5 was bought out by Tagged.com in December 2011.
In terms of functionality, features and content, Hi5 is behind Facebook. However it is comparable to sites like Yahoo! Games or MySpace. Its focus is on being a multi-player online gaming site first and a social networking one second. Their profiles are similar in appearance to and as cluttered as MySpace's. There are options to buy friends tokens of affection like on other gaming sites (a la Zynga). Hi5 has many features to entertain its diverse members from all over the world. One could certainly waste lots of time on Hi5!
While this user has a relatively newer MacBook Pro along with an enterprise-grade connection, the site was dreadfully slow and stalled at several points. While launching a game, Hi5 actually caused the browser to crash a couple times. There is also a banner advertisement located at the top of the website which adds to its cluttered look. Aside from those annoyances, Hi5 is engaging and feature-packed, with a good selection of games and activities. Overall, Hi5 is like a teenager's room: messy, distracting and full of games and things to do.
Registering for Hi5 requires one to enter an email address, password and date of birth. Afterwards, users can upload all kinds of content including their pictures or music or import their contact list to locate friends. The profile page is completely customizable. Users can create their own avatar, setup a neat looking background, add information about themselves and their favorite things and place music onto their profile.
Hi5 is a free service supported by advertising revenue. Much like many of the social networking sites out there, there are no plans to begin charging users for using it. For users who want to send virtual gifts to their friends there is an online store available on Hi5. Users can buy coins through that portal, but that is optional.
Hi5 isn't the most advanced social networking site. However, its popularity in certain regions and its array of games makes it an intriguing find and something to register for if one has lots of time to kill. For users who want to lose themselves in a game and still be apart of a virtual community while doing it, Hi5 is the ticket.