Social gaming is something of a strange beast these days. While there are more than a few people out there waiting for the inevitable collapse of social gaming in favor of mobile gaming, one point seems to be lacking in the field that may well turn it around: namely, the social part.
Facebook's director of user growth, Alex Schulz, summed it up well when he said that Facebook was looking forward to games that were "fundamentally better with friends, and fundamentally impossible to play without your friends". While his examples of such games--Starcraft and Minecraft--weren't exactly tops on the "you must have friends to play this game" list, he did raise a good point: a lot of games are simply better when you play them with other people.
Enjoying the reaction of other people, the camaraderie, the sheer social aspect of social gaming...now, that's got a lot going for it. The current crop of social gaming isn't exactly the greatest--how many users out there are getting constantly hit with their friends' finds on Facebook? I simply don't CARE if my friend found a new rainbow fish or needs some more fuel for their tractor or if they just wacked half the Carpuccio family or whatever. Playing social games needs more of a social aspect, and an immediate one.
This is a large chunk of the appeal behind MMOs, after all, and a fair reason why people keep playing--and paying to play--month after month. Their friends are there. Sure, they may never see said friends in real life, but they might. And even if they don't it doesn't particularly matter; after all, they're friends where it counts: where they play.
For social gaming to make anything resembling a recovery, it's going to need to rediscover the first part of its name. Getting more gamers involved--so they can play with their friends or just find new ones to play with--is going to be a huge boost to social gaming. Social gaming has the platform it needs to be truly great, but it's going to need to get some more focus to it to really make it big.