hi5 Adds More Games through RealNetworks, Benefits Virtual Goods Market

More games for hi5. The social network that’s turned to virtual goods has teamed up with RealNetworks in order to distribute some 1,500 game titles through hi5. While the financial details of the deal have not been revealed, this does appear to be yet another way in which hi5 can leverage its virtual currency through users downloading and purchasing various premium games.

hi5 has gone so far as to create an entirely new section to house its games, which launched earlier this year. Since its launch, hi5 has been adding more and more games to its game channel, mostly through partnerships wih game house developers and distributors alike. As hi5 has also been heavily promoting its virtual currency for an integrated approach to purchasing goods, including games, it’s a win-win for both hi5 and its game providers, which is RealNetworks in this case.

It seems that online games are making a bit of a comeback. As a self-admitting addict of online games, I’ve witnessed the surge in game channels on major online hubs, to a slag in popularity once social networks began to take off and the major hub approach lost its appeal to blogs and niche destination sites. Not to say that online games lost their popularity, but the recent trend for social network integration has placed games back at the forefront of the sites that are becoming central to our online activity.

It’s clear that social networks and their subsequent platforms are becoming the online hubs of our current era, and as a platform, these networks are able to control their economy for things like currency. I feel like a broken record even pointing this out, but hi5 has been rather aggressive towards its virtual goods end, and games have really helped to catalyze this effect.

Facebook too is moving deeper into the virtual goods market, while its platform supports a wealth of socially integrated applications that generate a significant stream of income for many developers. That being said, the ability to control one’s own currency means that the platform is better able to generate revenue from both users and partners, which is a goal for many social networks as of right now.