Social games are not social enough, Playdom Design VP says

Steve Meretzky
Steve Meretzky

During a recent interview with Gamasutra, Design VP of Playdom Steve Meretzky (pictured) claimed that social games have come a long way since three years ago, but social games aren't social enough. He believes that social games will only get more sophisticated as the years pass on, but not until the games' social elements are more deeply integrated.

"We've certainly gotten better at raising the production values of the games, but where we, as an industry, fall short is not moving the ball forward in terms of really making these games more social and taking advantage of the viral channels that Facebook allows," Meretzky said.

That's going to be a tough sell considering Facebook just made game discovery even more difficult for new players. Not to mention Facebook Groups could potentially fragment social gaming audiences through players communicating solely through Groups. While the platform itself presents an interesting dilemma for the growth of social games, perhaps perception poses even more of a challenge to the genre's success.

"I don't want to hear that Facebook games are Skinner boxes," he adds. "You know, when you come down to it, basically all games are Skinner boxes -- meaningless activities where you're not getting anything out of it other than enjoyment. But in traditional or more complex video games, the Skinner box core is more buried under a lot of sizzle. In Facebook games, just because they are so stripped down to their simplest, barest elements, the Skinner Box skeleton is just more visible."

While it might be deeper, more sophisticated social integration that brings social games out of the light illuminating them as meaningless task-and-reward games, there will always be dissenters. (Just look at Nintendo Wii.) In other words, haters gonna' hate.

[Image Credit: Get Lamp]

What do you think is missing from social games that would launch them forward, in the eyes of traditional gamers, as an acceptable way to play games? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.