Hi5 boss: Facebook's social gaming dominance won't last forever

The last time we heard from Hi5 president Alex St. John, he was declaring war on Facebook gaming and publicly badmouthing Zynga's spammy Facebook marketing at March's Game Developer's Conference. So it's not that surprising, then, that a recent Financial Times interview with St. John features some less than optimistic predictions for the future of both companies' social gaming businesses.

"Facebook stumbled onto a really exciting new gaming phenomenon and they're going to walk away from it or accidentally screw it up," St. John predicted. Because Facebook isn't focused exclusively on games, St. John argues, they will run into the same problems that popular generalized casual gaming portals encountered in the recent past. "WildTangent, Real Networks and Big Fish [specialised casual gaming services] are immensely grateful that Yahoo screwed up gaming and gave us their audiences. Facebook will do the exact same thing," he said.

In the interview, St. John was also pessimistic about the shallow games that dominate social gaming currently, predicting "the death of the games that are viral but have no other substance, which is kind of the first-generation Mafia Wars and Farmville-type games." Luckily, St. John says Hi5 and its recently-acquired Big Six platform will be around to save the market from itself. "The Zynga and Facebook guys are just scratching the most naive edge of online commerce models," he said. "The commerce platform that I built at WildTangent and that Big Six has built are decades ahead in sophistication and capability. It's rolling out now and we're going to show the social media industry what it means to really make money from these games."

And he's so humble about it too...