If there was a single buzz word to come out of last week’s GDC event, it would probably be ‘social.’ Until recently, Facebook seemed to be the only major platform that social games developers had their eyes on. That’s starting to change. MySpace announced a new focus on gaming at last week’s GDC event, and it looks like they weren’t alone. hi5 has also recently announced changes to their social network, all with the intent of drawing interest from the game development community.

hi5 has launched its new ‘Game Developer Program,’ which will offer free marketing and promotion for participating developers, access to hi5Coins (their in-house currency), and an easy transition from Facebook to Hi5 courtesy of a new set of Facebook-compatible API’s.

In addition to the reduced financial cost thanks to free-marketing and what Hi5 calls “favourable revenue shares” on hi5Coins, developers also have the potential to see higher user adoption rates due to a number of options that developers simply don’t have on Facebook. While Facebook gamers can only invite up to 30 people a day, for example, hi5 has no cap on invitations. Similarly, hi5 offers a notification system that can be incorporated into a game – a feature that Facebook recently removed.

With around 50 million subscriber, hi5 certainly isn’t the biggest kid on the block when it comes to social networking. But with an enticing set of circumstances for developers, this might be one to watch.

Developers interested in learning more about hi5’s Game Developer Program can visit hi5networks.com.