TikTok has infiltrated the minds of over a billion users worldwide in 2021, and that number is climbing. App Annie’s 2022 Mobile Forecast predicted that over 1.5 billion users will be active on the platform in 2022. Cue Instagram letting slip an audible gasp!
TikTok took just five years to reach this milestone, much to the dismay of the long-standing players – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. What sets TikTok apart? Well, for a start a highly addictive algorithm that figures out your interests in a matter of hours.
Since the platform’s inception, we’ve seen the likes of Instagram copy and paste features in order to stunt TikTok’s growth. However, TikTok is no stranger to such tactics, quickly learning from the mistakes of its predecessors to establish a foothold in the minds and hearts of social media users.
Now TikTok is turning its gaze to gaming…
- TikTok’s origins and how it became popular in Western markets
- The various gaming tests by TikTok
- Predictions for the future of the platform and the benefits of adding gaming elements
The Origins Of TikTok
TikTok made its debut in 2017 for users in the West, quickly becoming an addictive platform, resurging interest in short-form video following the absence of Vine. The Chinese counterpart of TikTok is Douyin, which was launched in September of 2016 by developer ByteDance. ByteDance then paid a hefty sum to merge with musical.ly bringing the TikTok as we know it today to over 150 countries in 2018.
However, TikTok’s rise to success in the West wasn’t all smooth sailing! Covid-19 certainly provided a boost like many other digital platforms and services. But, the influx of new users highlighted key issues such as content moderation and data breaches. During Trump’s presidency, TikTok was nearly banned stateside due to concerns over the data accessible to the Chinese government. Furthermore, TikTok received a permanent ban in India due to the platform and other Chinese-made apps being seen as a danger to the country.
Despite TikTok’s ban in India and near-miss in the U.S, the platform has remained a huge threat to tech giants such as Meta (previously Facebook) and Alphabet. TikTok has an organic reach potential like no other due to a superior algorithm that serves content to individual users based on a complex series of indicators, measuring every interaction across the platform.
TikTok quickly expanded from just entertaining 30-second clips, increasing video duration up to 10 minutes. Shots were clearly made in YouTube’s direction, which is only fair considering YouTube recently rolled out Shorts – its own take on TikTok’s popular short-form video feed. What we now experience from TikTok is a range of different formats including LIVE, short and long videos and a range of AR filters, popular music usage and e-commerce capabilities!
Make sure to check out how TikTok has impacted the music industry in our opinion piece!
TikTok Is Testing Mini-Games
TikTok is testing in-app mini-games in Vietnam which reportedly feeds into a larger gaming push to boost engagement and appeal to a broader audience. This was first reported by Reuters stating:
“TikTok has been conducting tests so users can play games on its video-sharing app in Vietnam, part of plans for a major push into gaming, four people familiar with the matter said.”
The games featured within the app are simple HTML5-based apps. Facebook in 2016 began allowing developers to build mobile-friendly games using HTML5. These games were then made available across Facebook and Messenger. Now TikTok is stepping in a similar direction, enabling third-party game developers and studios to create games across the app.
Interestingly, Douyin has already introduced mini-games to its 670 million users as of 2019. This is yet another element TikTok has taken from Douyin. In 2021, TikTok launched live steam shopping after Douyin found success and revenue gains from such experiences.
Could gaming be TikTok’s next big thing? We’ve already seen the likes of Netflix introducing gaming to its ecosystem to fend off its competitors Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. TikTok no doubt is taking the same approach whilst considering in-game ads, sponsored games and other avenues to boost revenue.
TikTok Live Studio – TikTok’s First Gaming Venture
TikTok testing mini-games isn’t the platform’s first venture into gaming. Back in December of 2021, TikTok commenced testing a new desktop streaming software called TikTok Live Studio. The software allows users to broadcast live footage from games and other desktop applications, which was previously possible via third-party tools such as Streamlabs – but not without limitations.
TikTok Live Studio began testing with a small number of users in Western markets, but no further updates have been officially released by TikTok so far. However, creator Zack Bussey, known for his reporting on news relevant to streamers, revealed the following information:
The TikTok Live Studio was yet another clue into TikTok’s broader objective of developing live streaming capabilities across the platform, which has since expanded the live shoppable streams. However, branching into gaming content would set TikTok against a brand new set of competitors including Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
Furthermore, there is clearly an appetite for gaming content across TikTok, which is reflected in the 277 billion views on the gaming-related content. Creators are also being spotlighted in gaming verticals through the gaming discover page, revealing TikTok’s intention to make the platform a hub for entertaining content for gamers.
The Future Of TikTok
TikTok has solidified its presence among the social media veterans such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. In such a short space of time, TikTok has won over 1 billion users, stealing time spent on social from platforms owned by the biggest tech giants in the West! But can TikTok survive the test of time?
We’ve seen Meta face a multitude of issues concerning personal data. However, Meta will survive regardless and TikTok has shown how formidable it is when faced with similar hardship. TikTok has invested in changes to support creator safety and respond to community needs whilst simultaneously making the platform a greener pasture for advertisers to spend their ad dollars.
Furthermore, TikTok has quickly pivoted away from just dance videos and memes, cultivating highly engaged and extensive communities in a range of niches. In fact, users migrate to TikTok due to the better representation and celebration of diverse voices. This is very much reflected in TikTok being the title sponsor of the L.A. 2022 Pride Parade.
TikTok venturing into gaming stands as another move to ensure longevity through the constant enhancement of the user experience. Mini games are certainly the entry point for TikTok, with the platform eyeing up a slice of the streaming platform market share. TikTok is not only looking at what is working well for competitors, but is also privy to the foresight of what is working in China. Social media and digital platforms in the Eastern country are years ahead of the West. Therefore, ByteDance can bring popular elements in the digital space to Western users, resulting in TikTok being the innovator.
The fact other platforms are all running to replicate TikTok elements illustrates the threat the platform represents. It wouldn’t be surprising if TikTok becomes the WeChat of the West in years to come, owning every space of the digital experience!
The Goat Agency Insights Team will keep you up to date with all the latest developments on this story. In the meantime, you can also catch up on our latest piece discussing a potential creator crisis on Twitch!