Criterion's Matt Webster has slammed the fashion in which Facebook games are often referred to as "social games", suggesting that there' absolutely nothing social about a game "spamming" one's feed and constantly badgering you to tell your mates about it.We caught up with Webster last week to chat about the ever-expanding range of socially connected features being merged into the imminent Need For Speed: Most Wanted via Autolog, and he delivered a damning indictment of the current scene of social games, arguing that what Criterion are doing is far more true to the concept of "social gaming" than anything one might find on Facebook.
"There's nothing social about a Facebook game spamming my feed, or bombarding me with adverts, and harassing me to invite my friends every two seconds," he said. "But if you can make me want to engage with a friend in a shared gaming experience in a shared environment, there's something really powerful in that. And if you can provide persistent personal competition, throw up emergent challenges that mean more, are more personal, to me and you and anyone who plays the game, that's incredibly exciting.
"This is really what I think of when I hear the term “social gaming”. This is what social gaming is. First of all you have to be really true to the one principle that defines that sub-genre: it's about friends. If you deviate from that, you dilute the notion of social gaming entirely. Everything is better with friends: I see my friend's face; I want to compete. A pop up tells me someone has beaten my time; I want to compete. That desire is innate, and all Autolog does is enable that. It makes everything immediately accessible and simply serves the same function as leaderboards have done for so long, but faster, with greater efficiency and integration and immediacy than ever before. It takes those competitive elements and instead of making you go looking for them, Autolog pushes them right into your face, constantly daring you to compete. That's social gaming, not 'invite your friends to receive credits'."
You'll be able to read our full interview with Matt this lunchtime.