According to four people familiar with the situation, TikTok has been conducting tests in Vietnam to allow users to play games on its video-sharing app as part of plans for a major push into gaming.
Adding games on its platform would increase ad revenue and the number of time users spends on the app, which is one of the most popular in the world with over 1 billion monthly active users.
Vietnam is an attractive market for social media platforms like TikTok, Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube and Google, as it has a tech-savvy population with 70% of its residents under the age of 35.
According to the people, TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, also aims to expand gaming in Southeast Asia. Two of them believe it might happen as early as the third quarter. Because the information has not yet been made public, the sources declined to be revealed.
Through partnerships with third-party game developers and studios such as Zynga Inc., TikTok has experimented with introducing HTML5 games, a common type of minigame, to its app. However, it refused to discuss its plans for Vietnam or its broader gaming goals.
“We’re always looking at ways to enrich our platform and regularly test new features and integrations that bring value to our community,” the representative said.
We can’t be sure whether the video-sharing platform aims to expand its gaming capabilities to other markets. Although TikTok users can watch games being streamed, they cannot play games within the TikTok app in most regions.
Only a few games appear to have been released in the United States, including Zynga‘s “Disco Loco 3D,” a music and dance challenge game, and TikTok’s “Garden of Good,” in which users produce vegetables to prompt donations to the non-profit Feeding America.
TikTok intends to rely heavily on ByteDance‘s games, according to two sources.
While the company will begin with minigames, which typically feature simple gameplay principles and a short playtime, one of the persons with direct familiarity with the situation claimed that the company’s gaming goals extend beyond that.
In Vietnam, where authorities limit games portraying gambling, violence, and sexual content, TikTok will need a license to feature games on its platform. According to the source, the procedure should proceed well because the games planned are not controversial.
Since 2019, users of ByteDance‘s Douyin, the Chinese counterpart of TikTok, can play games on the site.
According to a third source, TikTok’s games would almost certainly have advertisements from the start, with revenue split between ByteDance and game developers.
TikTok’s entry into games is similar to other large tech companies’ efforts to retain consumers. In 2016, Facebook introduced Instant Games, and Netflix recently added games to its platform.
It’s also ByteDance‘s latest move to promote itself as a serious gaming rival. Last year, it bought Shanghai-based game studio Moonton Technology, putting it in direct competition with China’s largest gaming company, Tencent.
TikTok’s advertising revenue has increased even without games. According to research company Insider Intelligence, its advertising revenue is expected to increase this year to more than $11 billion, surpassing the combined sales of Twitter and Snap.