TikTok is reportedly planning a ‘major push’ into gaming in the near future, and is testing in-app games in Vietnam as part of the plan. TikTok started in 2016 as the short-form video platform ‘Douyin’ in China before launching internationally the following year. Shortly after its global launch, it exploded into one of the most popular apps in its category, especially among young users. It is available on both Android and iOS, and has been downloaded more than two billion times globally from the Play Store and App Store combined.
Owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, TikTok has also been embroiled in several controversies over the years. While some believe that the app might have privacy issues due to its Chinese ownership, others are worried about its impact on young users. In fact, Attorneys General in eight states across the U.S. are investigating TikTok for alleged violations of consumer protection laws and whether it has a harmful impact on young users.
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TikTok is reportedly doubling down on gaming and is rolling out HTML5 games to its app through tie-ups with independent developers and major game studios, such as Zynga. According to Reuters, the company is currently testing the new feature in Vietnam ahead of a possible wider rollout in the near future. A TikTok spokesperson confirmed the company’s foray into gaming, but did not provide a timeline for a global rollout. According to an unnamed source quoted by the report, the app will initially launch ad-supported games from ByteDance’s existing library, but there’s no official confirmation about what to expect from the company in this regard.
TikTok’s Gaming Expansion Isn’t Surprising
It is worth noting that this is not TikTok’s first foray into gaming. The company had earlier launched an in-app Farmville-like game called Garden of Good, which allowed players to grow vegetables to earn points and then use them to make a donation to the non-profit Feeding America. The company also joined hands with Zynga in 2021 to launch an HTML5 game called Disco Loco 3D and confirmed that it is in discussions with other developers and studios to build similar in-app games for TikTok.
Given prior developments, TikTok’s larger expansion into gaming is not the least bit surprising. The company clearly intends gaming to be a way to retain users and make them spend even more time on the app than they already do. In-app gaming can increase user engagement and keep people glued to the app for longer periods, even when they are done scrolling through videos. Gaming could also help bring in more users from other competing apps and do what Farmville did for Facebook more than a decade ago. All things considered, the expansion to gaming is a shrewd move from TikTok, and one that could pay rich dividends for the company going forward.