There's nothing wrong with social games, m'kay? Social games are fine. But maybe it's time to ditch that moniker. According to Takehiro Ando, a mobile game producer at Square Enix, recently did a post on Famitsu titled "Sayonara Social Games", that might not be a bad idea.
Social games are suffering from some bad PR. "It was often the case that the emphasis wasn't on how to make a game better, but rather, how to get money from customers," Ando wrote. As previously noted, social games in Japan used a game system that was kind of like gambling. The backlash caused social game companies to phase out controversial "complete gacha" elements in their games.
Thus, the word "social game" in Japan has come to mean card based games that people spend lots of money on in hopes of getting rare digital cards. That's not a very good image.
"This year, what we are going to do is push ourselves to find various new, fun things," explains Ando. Therefore instead of focusing on "social", Ando points out that the goal is "Fun games that run on smartphones."
The game producer also points out something else that's very interesting: A recent game that has the some of the best social aspects is Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but nobody calls it a social game.
"That's why, if a social game is interesting, I think it's good as a game," said Ando, adding it would be good if there was even a new way of referring to them. The example that Ando gives is that in Japan, the word "game center" had a bad image. And that's when game companies started opening "amusement centers", which conjured a very different and much better impression.
At the bottom of the article, Ando points out that this year, Japanese game companies will release big titles one after another. And he goes on to mention how prominent game designers are selected smartphone games as a platform.
"Because, increasingly, I've also had the chance to talk to many hardcore game creators about smartphone games," Ando writes, "the age of smartphones blossoming into video games is coming at last."