In Gamasutra's latest feature
, veteran developer Greg Costikyan dissects social games and examines how developers give "no thought whatsoever" to using their social nature to enhance gameplay.
"Developers of social games have clearly given great thought to using the social graph to foster player acquisition, retention, and monetization; but as far as I can see, no thought whatsoever has given to the use of player connections to foster interesting gameplay," he writes.
Costikyan, who, vastly prefers multiplayer experiences to single-player ones, sees many ways in which developers could use tested social mechanics to improve their games in the Facebook space.
Why they don't is a mystery, he writes: "The peculiarity of this is that social networks are actually far better suited than most online environments to fostering social gameplay."
For example, developers could bring in an element of performance -- simple or complex -- to engage players with one another, he writes.
"Performative play is utterly social in nature, and possible only in multiplayer games; it is also something to which online games have always been well-suited. The existence of a social graph, making it easier to play with actual friends instead of strangers, should foster performative play more effectively than other online environments."
Costikyan has many suggestions on how social games can be improved to be more social, and outlines them in detail in the full feature -- live now on Gamasutra