Alex St. John, DirectX evangelist and formerly president of social gaming network Hi5 before it was acquired last year, has founded a new social gaming company and website.
"Social discovery" site Tagged purchased Hi5
a few months ago with the aim to dominate the social networking space through social games. However, it was an "asset-only" purchase, and did not include Hi5's staff
, including St. John.
Now St. John has revealed Magi.com
, a new California-based company that is hoping to rival Facebook as the web's one-stop social gaming destination, reports Venturebeat.
The new company has 30 employees, and is being financed by Hi5's investors, Mohr Davidow Ventures and Crosslink Venture Partners.
St. John explained that being a "pure game site" from the very beginning, rather than beginning as solely a social network like Hi5 or Facebook, will be a huge benefit for the company.
"Hi5 was a real identity social network and that was holding us back," he noted. "Do you want your boss to know you are playing social games all day?"
He said that, while Tagged has bought Hi5, Magi.com has retained the rights to the network's social gaming features, including a free virtual goods platform called Mojo Market.
St. John also explained that Magi.com's applications programming interfaces are based on Facebook's own interfaces, and therefore adapting a Facebook game for Magi.com takes little effort for developers.
The social gaming network has already launched as an open beta
, with developers such as DJ Arts, HitPoint Studios and Pixie Games providing early games.
Magi.com launches at an interesting time, as Zynga has only just launched
its own social gaming network Zynga Platform. However, St.John said that he is not worried, as Zynga is "gummed up with Facebook."
"It's a coincidence that Zynga is becoming a publishing platform, but we are doing this with real and anonymous friends," he argued.
"It does anonymous friend matching, but you can invite real friends and they can see who you are. It also does not sit behind a registration wall like Zynga has."