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TikTok is Now Foraying into Gaming, Reported Reuters

On 19th May, Reuters received news from four people familiar with the matter that TikTok is conducting trials to allow users to play games on its video-sharing app in Vietnam as part of its major push into the gaming space.

Vietnam, a tech-savvy population with over 70% of its citizens below 35, is a lucrative market for social media companies, including Facebook, TikTok, and others.

Featuring games on its apps would boost ad revenue for TikTok, the world’s most prominent social media app with over a billion monthly active users. It will also impact the amount of time users spend on the app.

ByteDance, TikTok’s parent firm based in China, is also aiming to launch gaming more widely in Southeast Asia. According to two of them, the company could launch it as early as Q3.

TikTok’s Gaming Ambitions

A TikTok representative told Reuters that the company has already tested HTML5 games, a common minigame form, on the app via collaborations with third-party game studios and developers like Zynga Inc. However, the company didn’t comment on its Vietnamese plans or broader gaming ambitions.

“We are always looking for various ways to enrich our app and conduct regular tests for new features that bring value to our community,” wrote the representative in an email statement to Reuters.

We could not find any reports of TikTok’s gaming launch in other markets. As of now, TikTok users can only watch live streamings of games, but they can’t play games within the app in most regions.

In the US, the platform has only released a few games, including Zynga’s Disco Loo 3D, which is a music and dance challenge, and Garden of Good, where players can grow vegetables to initiate donations by TikTok to a nonprofit, Feeding America.

As per the sources, TikTok aims to draw primarily on the suite of games from ByteDance.

However, one of the people with direct knowledge of the matter suggested that though the company plans to start with minigames, its gaming ambitions extend beyond that.

“TikTok will need a license to feature games on its platform in Vietnam. Authorities there restrict games that depict gambling, sexual content, and violence. However, the company expects the process to go smoothly since all planned games are not controversial,” said the person.

Notably, Users of Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok by ByteDance, have been able to play games within the app since 2019.

TikTok is likely to carry ads from the start, and the company may split revenue between the parent company and game developers, said a separate source.

The Significance

TikTok’s gaming venture mirrors similar efforts major tech made recently to retain their users. In 2016, Facebook launched Instant Games, and Netflix also recently added games to its platform.

It also marks ByteDance’s latest effort to establish itself as a major gaming contender. Last year, it acquired Shanghai-based gaming studio Moonton Technology, which put it in direct competition with Tencent, China’s biggest gaming company.

Even without gaming, TikTok has witnessed a massive jump in its ad revenue. This year, the prediction by Insider Intelligence is that it would be witnessing a 3x surge in its revenue, exceeding 11 billion USD, more than the combined sales of Twitter and Snapchat.