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.
source: GameIndustry International