Zynga: Social Games Ain't Social

The Wooster

King Snap
Jul 15, 2008
Zynga: Social Games Ain't Social

Zynga reckons what we call social games are actually viral, rather than truly social.

As aforementioned creative officer (yeah, yeah, laugh it up, chuckles) of external studios, Bob Bates, told GamesIndustry International:

"We're still in the infancy of understanding what's possible and what it really means for a game to be social. Right now we're viral, but true social, where you feel like you're actually playing with your friends, not 'I'm playing here, he's playing there' is still ahead."

Though social titles tend to be tightly integrated into the social networks they're hosted on, very few of them let players interact with each other in any meaningful way. Most of the games are asynchronous, turned based affairs like blatant scrabble knock-off, Words With Friends, or the hilarious, competitive phallus-drawing simulator, Draw Something. As fun as these games are, they aren't any more "social" than say, playing chess via email.

Previously, social games were hamstrung by the limitations of browser-based game engines, making turn-based games the most obvious choice. As browsers become more capable, more involved games are becoming possible.

"The sense of actually playing together, that's a real challenge," continued Bates, "and I'd like to be in a position where I can attack that challenge. I don't feel like I know enough yet to pull that off; I'm still learning the space. Finding ways to do those kinds of things would be very, very cool."

So it seems Zynga will have to try a little harder to make the perfect social game. Alternatively, they could just wait for someone else to do it. [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/115475-Indy-Dev-Calls-Zynga-Out-Over-Plagiarism]

source: GameIndustry International [http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-04-11-zynga-social-games-are-still-not-truly-social]



Insert one-liner here.
Sep 13, 2010
So, Zynga thinks it still hasnt made a social game now?

Why dont they just call themselves a viral games developer? Given the ideas theyve demonstrated [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/115475-Indy-Dev-Calls-Zynga-Out-Over-Plagiarism] recently theyre probably far from breaking the mould they themselves set.


New member
Jul 10, 2010
Gotta agree with the sentiment

A social game can be more like your standard MMO lots of people together - and you'll co-operate and compete against them


Take a game I play, Kingdom Of Loathing, it is...pretty much, a single player game. However there are lots of social elements, there are clan dungeons which can be solo-ed but are better together...there's the mall - nearly everything for sale is sold by the players - and chat - chat is awesome.

Unfortunatly chat in kingdom of zynga would be

Add me - daily player level 102
Add me - Gift all the time
PLZ nned 2 more short swords for quest
Anyway to get more Platinum coins without paying

ad infintitum

I'm sure we're all sick of the Zynga spam, and every new game needing to be added to your ignore list - the formula is boring and going bust - I play a few (wife plays I play...one way or the other) so I see it you need X items which you have to spam your wall for....why - NO ONE IS NOT IGNORING THESE NOW

They bring NOTHING to the game, wall spam is wall spam and is IGNORED immediately by non players - an initial advert would be fine....but yeh they are not social games they're single players I need clickers for


Swamp Weather Balloon Gas
Apr 11, 2011
It ain't even viral. People just play it cause it's there, not cause it's something you bring up at every opportunity to make people laugh or feel anything at all, really. It's a leech on society.


Sarcastic overlord
Jun 3, 2009
Dexter111 said:
You know what games were "social"?

Things like Super Mario where friends or family could gather around the screen and play together. Games like StarCraft or Battlefield where you could do a LAN with friends, haul over your machines to someone else's place and then play together or against each other all the while throwing insults at each other, alternatively visiting Internet cafes together and doing that there. Or nowadays Multiplayer and CoOp games that one can play together while talking to each other over VoIP tools or while sitting next to each other on a couch...

Those were/are "social" experiences, not inviting someone to "water your virtual plants" by clicking on them or similar...
OK, so you don't understand this at all. What could possibly be more social than sending out a lot of messages annoying all your Facebook friends at the same time?


Senior Member
Sep 25, 2008
We already have social games.

You know, every game ever that had multiplayer?

You wanna know what's a social game? Super Smash Bros.


New member
Sep 26, 2008
The irony is that games labeled as "Social" games have very little interaction with other people, while a game that's considered to be anti-social, like an MMO, specifically requires that you interact with other people in order to be successful.


New member
Dec 27, 2009
Hexenwolf said:
We already have social games.
Exactly what I was thinking - probably along with most of the other people reading this article. Bates makes it sound like no one at Zynga has ever played any real games, which wouldn't actually surprise me.

...otherwise they'd have found better ones to copy. Har. Har. Har.


Dec 1, 2009
I played a game called ink links a long time ago that was completely awesome. It is like draw something mixed with a chatroom where everyone guesses and you can talk to people back and forth.


New member
Sep 7, 2011
Spacewar! came out in 1962 and was 'true social'. So Zynga has 50 years of video game history to study from if they want to know how to make a social game.


New member
Apr 7, 2010
Social gaming... you mean like playing over XBL or sitting in front of the couch playing splitscreen Mario Kart? That's a lot more social than saying "FERTILIZE MY CROOOPPPSSS PLZZZZZZKTHX!"

Steve the Pocket

New member
Mar 30, 2009
Calling Zynga's games "viral" is very accurate.

Because the Facebook integration comes down to just advertising themselves to everyone the player knows. That's definitely what I'd call viral.

(Ha, bet you thought I was going to say "Because they're like a virus" or some other lame joke. But no, seriously, this trend in games is stupid and anyone who claims their game's Facebook integration serves any purpose other than to hijack the player's wall as an advertising platform is lying out their ass. THIS INCLUDES YOU, VALVE!)