TikTok begins pilot testing of HTML5 mini-games with a handful of partners – TechCrunch

TikTok wants to tap into its users’ appetite for mobile gaming by launching “mini-games” that can be played within the social video app and discovered through the creator’s videos. TechCrunch has learned and now confirms TikTok’s new gaming pilot quietly launched a few weeks ago with various new partners including game developers Vodoo, Nitro Games, FRVR, Aim Lab and Lotum.

The launch follows reports earlier this year that the social video app maker was looking to expand into HTML5 gaming after testing the waters with gaming giant Zynga last November. The two companies then teamed up to launch a TikTok exclusive title, Disco Loco 3D, similar to Zynga’s successful game (via acquisition) High Heels.

At the time, TikTok said it was engaged in discussions with other game makers for similar deals, telegraphing an even bigger gaming expansion. The move, if successful, could one day position TikTok as the home for casual mobile gaming that revolves around Apple and Google’s app stores — and, possibly, a cut of their future gaming revenue.

A list of new mini-games can be found within the TikTok app when a video is posted on the platform. On the final screen before publishing, creators can add hashtags, description, location and more, as well as optionally link to other content. First, tapping the “Add Link” button allows users to add links to a variety of other experiences through TikTok Jump, a third-party integration tool built into the TikTok app. Creators can link content to other apps, such as Whisk’s recipes, BuzzFeed and Quizlet’s quizzes, Breathwork’s breathing exercises, Rotten Tomato’s ratings and more. The new games are not part of the TikTok Jump initiative, we understand, as they are a first-party effort. However, they are found in this section.

Image credit: TikTok screenshot

Now, when a creator publishes a link to one of the new games available in this section, it appears as an anchor above their username in the resulting video. From there, viewers are able to click play when the video comes up.

At launch, HTML5 gaming titles include the following games:

  • Basketball FRVR (by FRVR)
  • Tap the Difference (by Lotum)
  • Pick a Who (by Nitro)
  • Pride Run (by Voodoo)
  • Impressive Run (by Voodoo)
  • Space Destroyer (by Nitro)
  • Mr. Aim Lab’s Nightmare (by Aim Lab)

TikTok has not officially announced the launch of its mobile gaming pilot, but a spokesperson confirmed that the effort began testing in various global markets a few weeks ago.

“We’re always looking for ways to regularly test new features and integrations that enrich our platform and bring value to our community,” a TikTok spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch. “Currently, we are looking to bring HTML5 games to TikTok through integration with third-party game developers and studios.”

They said the initiative is in the early stages of testing and could not comment on contract terms with individual game makers. However, none of the games are currently monetized through advertising or in-app purchases, we’re told. For now, the pilot is looking to determine how TikTok’s existing gaming community will interact with these games and how users will create content around the titles. Of course, in the long run, things could change – if TikTok wants to go in that direction.

Image credit: TikTok screenshot

TikTok told us these new mini-games are a separate effort from the games developed for TikTok LIVE, which allows creators to interact with fans while livestreaming.

App intelligence firm Watchful.ai found that the games were recently listed under the “Add Link” section under the “MiniGame” heading, but Zynga’s game Disco Loco 3D is still listed separately. It recently saw the addition of markets in Southeast Asia. However, here in the US we have found mini-games available in this same menu

TikTok isn’t the first tech giant to expand beyond its core focus on mobile gaming. Google, for example, has embraced HTML5 games with the launch of its gaming platform GameSnacks, which it scaled to Google Chrome’s new tab page last year in markets such as India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Kenya. Facebook also launched Facebook Gaming on the web and Android last year in Cloud Gaming. Meanwhile, Netflix has made free downloads of mobile games part of its subscription.

There is some irony here that TikTok is building an informal gaming platform and its first partner in this endeavor was Zynga. The gaming company initially built its business on the back of Facebook, tapping into the social network’s growing user base to attract players to its titles. This helped it become the largest company in social gaming and led to its eventual IPO. Nowadays, however, Facebook has passed away among the youth while TikTok is the top app in the world. Zynga, meanwhile, is no longer a standalone company. But if TikTok’s pilot proves successful, mobile social gaming could grow again.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.