TikTok is massive – the video-sharing app, particularly popular with younger people, has over a billion active users and is expected to make about $11 billion this year. The app is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company, and was initially launched in 2016 before a re-branding and global rollout in 2017, since when it exploded in popularity as it some days challenges Google as the most popular website in the world.
ByteDance is now looking to build on what TikTok does, and one of the goals is a big boost for games. As first reported by Reuters, TikTok has been testing in-app games in the Vietnamese market, with plans to roll out its gaming elements more widely in Southeast Asia by the end of the year. Chinese TikTokers have been able to play on the service for some time now.
I’m really getting some Newgrounds vibes here, because the nature of TikTok – short videos, video responses, loops, and virality – feels so good for a specific style of play. Because of my age, I’m going to call them Flash games, but you know what I mean: those two-minute experiences where you have fun, the small game session.
TikTok already has some isolated games out there: Zynga’s 3D disco it was the first HTML5 game to be developed for the platform and it launched smoothly. “We see tremendous opportunity to reach new audiences around the world through TikTok’s massive and unparalleled user base,” said Bernard Kim at the time, president of publishing. “Zynga has a rich history of creating games that leverage the unique user experiences of platforms to bring new and fun concepts that resonate with gamers wherever and whenever they have fun.”
Another obvious source for games will be ByteDance itself, which has been interested in making more ‘gamey’ apps like Party Island (think: casual Sims) in the past. The developer acquired game studio Moonton Technology last year, and its foray into games follows the path that many social media companies have followed.
The bottom line here isn’t that TikTok will make games – after all, it’s been doing this in its home market for years. It’s just that the company behind it sees gaming as one of the great ways to engage and maintain its massive player base on the platform. You will not be producing things that will challenge your RTX 3090 but with that audience and the instantaneous character of the platform, these will become some of the most played video games in the world.