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Friendster's as good as dead to the western world (it hasn't really crossed our radar since 2002), but Forbes reports that the site is still huge in Southeast Asia -- though not for the reasons you might think. It was the original social network when in launched in 2002, but its acquisition by e-payment provider MOL Global in 2009 led to its reincarnation as a top online gaming destination for countries such as India, Indonesia and Malaysia. The new Friendster just officially emerged from beta as a game-centric site, and the remaining vestiges of its social networking past -- you can still add friends, after all -- are gamified with reward points. Moreover, owner MOL Global has added e-payments to the mix, letting users buy Friendster Coins to purchase virtual goods. Given predictions that the Asian gaming community will exceed 1 billion by 2016, the site's future is looking rosier than ever. That might lessen the sting of being plum blown out of the social networking game by the big dogs.

Public Access