Social Gaming Roundup: Hello Kitty Fundraiser, gWallet, Playfish, Hi5, and More

Hello Kitty Online Players Donate to Help Haiti – As more and more people send their help to Haiti, the folks over in Sanrio Land are doing their part as well with an event called Food for Friends 2 hosted by Sanrio Digital and Aeria Games within the Hello Kitty Online MMO. For each of the in-game items players donated to Aeria Games, the company would then donate to the Haiti relief efforts. Aeria has not released their total donations yet, but it did receive 534,358 donated items from players on their servers. Sanrio servers, however, garnered over 1.2 million donated items and donated US$ 18,038.30 to Doctors Without Borders.

gWallet Brings Virtual Offers & Currency to the Front Page – Social media monetization firm, gWallet, announced the introduction of the gWallet Brand Bar. Rather than bury potential offers in the back pages of social games, the Brand Bar’s intention is to allow social gaming offers to appear at the top of game screens on all pages, displaying offers the user can participate in, in order to earn virtual currency for their current game.

Playfish Sells 60M Pet Society Virtual Goods – This week, we caught a glimpse at how effective holiday virtual goods can become as Electronic Arts Vice President of Business Developments and Strategic Partnerships, Sebastien de Halleux, stated in Forbes that Playfish’s Pet Society had sold over 60 million virtual goods in the two weeks prior to Valentine’s Day.

Furthermore, it was noted that “tens of thousands” of flower bouquets were purchased through Valentine’s promotions (sponsored by ProFlowers) that earned players the game’s virtual currency. In fact, it was stated that half of all revenue generated in the said two weeks were from the bouquet sales, with total sales being 20% higher than February of 2009.

hi5 to Unveil New Game Developer Program at GDC – Described by the company as a “fundamentally different model for social games,” hi5’s Game Developer Program is something of an enigma. However, it does incorporate elements such as free marketing and promotion across the hi5 network, revenue share through both advertising and hi5 Coins (its virtual currency) usage, automatic game installs, and “super-charged” social channels with a dedicated game portal and promotional area for discovery.

Clarity is coming as President and CTO of hi5, Alex St. John has announced that details will finally be unveiled at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco on March 10, 4:15 – 5:15pm. The one hour session will be at the Moscone Center, Room 122, North Hall and open to all GDC pass holders, save student and audio passes.

Strategic Design Network Aquires Payout Hub – While the price and structure of the acquisition was not announced, social gaming startup, Strategic Design Network (SDN) has acquired the cash tournament company, Payout Hub. Now, the service that allows players to participate in skill-based tournaments for cash prizes (gambling, by some definitions) will be available for the coming line up of SDN titles.

In fact, SDN is already making use of Payout Hub’s capabilities with a new Payout Hub API for the iPhone. Installable in less than an hour, the integration of this API allows iPhone developers to quickly and easily incorporate cash tournament capabilities into their game, and allows users to effectively find all the tournaments currently running.

Chris DeWolfe is Going Shopping – Though virtually nothing is known at the moment, word on the street, via, is that MySpace co-creator and former CEO, Chris DeWolfe is going shopping — a rumor we heard something about last fall. However, this is no mere trip to the market, as he may be looking to buy a “social gaming platform play.” The time frame? It could be this weekend.