Tired of Facebook but like social games? Luckily for you, there exist five other great places where you can take chainsaws to zombies or decorate your own bakery just in time for the holidays. These gaming sites are: OMGPOP, Kongregate, Meez, Hi5 and myYearbook. More after the jump.
OMGPOP is a casual multiplayer gaming site with a large number of flash based games. OMGPOP is branded as an online destination site where people can hang out, play free games, chat and make friends. The selection of games include all the popular card and board games as well as clones of classic games such as Missile Command and Pool.
Each player starts off at level 1, leveling up as they play more games. This meta-game system is comprised of arcade stats and achievements that players can pursue by playing games and scoring as high as possible. The profile dashboard also lets users customize their photos and personal information and also manage their friend requests. OMGPOP’s invite friend feature lets users see which of their friends from other networks like Facebook, Gmail and AOL are also on OMGPOP.
OMGPOP is overall a great gaming portal that has a strong realtime multiplayer gaming community with virtual currency tie-ins. OMGPOP has also integrated with other popular destinations like myYearbook, powering them with fun social games.
Kongregate, like OMGPOP, is also a casual gaming community that launched in June 2006. The site offers its players social networking style profiles with information about their gaming achievements highlighted. This is a similar meta-game mechanic as seen in OMGPOP’s platform. Kongregate’s games are slightly more hardcore than average casual games and focus on a younger male audience – hence why you see a lot more zombie killing games.
Players can invite their friends primarily through e-mail, with no sign of Facebook anywhere. Kongregate’s gaming platform is also not limited to its destination site as the games can also be embedded on other sites and even played through devices like Android with the launch of its latest Froyo update.
Meez is social network service out of San Francisco that differs slightly from the models of gaming services like Kongregate. Meez provides players with an avatar-based gaming experience and qualifies as a virtual world. Meez has a free, ad-supported model but it sells a subscription based VIP membership that gives enhanced feature access, in addition to its premium currency called Coinz.
Players can play Meez games and earn rewards. There’s plenty of categories of games to pick from, including action, cards and casino, puzzle, strategy and more. Players can roam public hangouts with customized 3D avatars and initiate games right from within the environments as well as from the login dashboard.
Meez allows players to connect with Facebook Connect although that defeats the purpose as the signup process requires a bunch of fields to sign up. Meez, like OMGPOP, has been powering other networks such as mYyearbook and VZNet with their 3D chat and social gaming experience. Whether you’re looking to connect with existing friends or meet new ones, Meez is a good way to connect.
Hi5 is a social entertainment portal most popular in Latin America and India and another great place to play social games. It offers players games from popular gaming companies such as BigPoint, Casual Collective, Digital Chocolate, Playdom and more. Barn Buddy is currently the top game with 2.8M players.
Like the other sites, Hi5 requires users to sign-up and currently there is no Facebook Connect functionality. Once registered, however, players have a variety of games to pick from and can also customize their avatars – an effort Hi5 is currently working on.
One of the hottest growing social networking sites is myYearbook. Although the site initially offered only their own games that were built in-house, myYearbook now includes games from the likes of OMPGOP, Meez and more. The focus of myYearbook is more on letting members meet new members vs. connecting with their own social graph. Akin to Hi5, myYearbook also offers its own virtual currency and is focusing on bringing in social games that have proven successful elsewhere.
The social networking site has also been working on deeper Facebook Connect integration, as well as mobile applications that extend some of the site’s social networking and gaming aspects to iPhone and Android. In all, it’s a strategy that seems to revolve around continued monetization while adding stickiness to keep its core users: teenagers, coming back to the site.