TikTok and Gaming: Brands, start planning

TikTok is making waves as the latest app that’s changing the landscape of social media. It burst onto the scene with short, fifteen second videos, capitalising off a generation with an attention span that is shortening with every moment spent online. Its very format of easily consumable videos alongside an endless stream of content was a winning combination, beating Instagram to become the most popular social media application for teenagers in the US. Today, it has over 1 billion monthly active users. 

The rapid popularisation of TikTok has led to palpable effects on the rest of the social media scene. Instagram is already pushing its Reels as its next flagship feature, hoping to compete with TikTok’s video format. YouTube has created its own version in the form of Shorts, where users can share brief, portrait videos that last a minute or less. It’s clear that TikTok is leading the change — and the rest of the world is striving to catch up. 

The latest in these are the introduction of in-app gaming. According to Reuters, TikTok is testing out a number of HTML5 minigames on its platform. One of these includes ‘Garden of Good’, an interactive experience where players can earn points and use them to make a donation — reminiscent of the early days of FarmVille. Others may extend to TikTok LIVE, allowing users to interact and game in real-time with other players on the platform. Some reports even indicate that the app has plans to roll out gaming in Southeast Asia as early as the third quarter of 2022. 

Utilising TikTok’s massive gaming community

Video games have gained momentum — and much of this has to do with the expansion of the interactive virtual landscape. What was once only accessible within arcades and individual consoles have moved towards every device with an online connection, and with this, has brought forth the mass popularisation of gaming.

Naturally, this translates to the emergence of online gaming communities that have sprung up over every major social media platform over the last decade. Consuming video-based content has always been common amongst gamers — YouTube gamers PewDiePie and Markiplier are just some of the most well-known names in the gaming community today. Since the conception of the platform, YouTube gamers have gained a mass following for sharing gaming tips, streaming popular titles, delving into video game lore, and more. 

While many viewers have migrated to live-streaming platforms like Twitch, TikTok is steadily becoming a well-liked alternative — and for good reason. With its massive global reach and easily consumable content, the platform is well-placed to become one of the most influential in the realm of gaming. The summer of 2020 saw a sudden spike in interest in the online game ‘Among Us’; #amongus on TikTok has counted over 63.8 billion views to date. This translated to direct action: in September 2021 alone, the game was downloaded 41 million times. 

That’s not to distract from the steadily growing gaming community on the platform. At the point of writing, #gamer has more than 3 billion views, while others such as #pcgaming and #videogames rack up a similarly impressive count. 

The rest of the gaming world has certainly taken note of this. Gaming influencers with large followings have begun to rapidly migrate to the platform, seeking to tap into a younger audience that YouTube, with its parental controls, may not be able to access. 

Gaming companies and agencies are similarly flocking to TikTok, including esports competition organisers. To promote the ‘League of Legends’ World Championships finals in 2019, video game developer Riot Games partnered with the platform to launch an original music track and, from this, created a hashtag challenge. TikTok influencers were invited to the in-person event to create authentic video content. It’s a strategy that works: in 2020, the hashtag generated the company over 1 billion views globally.

How can brands tap into the mass popularisation of TikTok gaming?

The influence of gaming on popular culture is not showing signs of dwindling down anytime soon. Of course, this is a major bonus for brands within the gaming sphere itself, leading to higher sales, increased interest and a wider audience reach. However, the influence — and adoption — of gaming on popular social media platforms such as TikTok is a signal that speaks of a need for brands outside the industry to similarly adjust and accommodate — and, through this, stand a chance to delve into a rapidly growing community. 

TikTok is already providing opportunities on this front. While the mechanics of its in-app gaming functions are yet to be released, many are expected to carry advertisements from the get-go. Revenue will be shared between ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, and developers. 

That’s not to distract from opportunities to expand the realms of traditional content creation, as well. Reports show a Pictionary-reminiscent game designed for TikTok LIVE, where players will be given words to draw on-screen while viewers guess the correct answer. Such guessing games call to mind the likes of ‘Wordle’, now adopted by The New York Times — revealing an endless number of possibilities in how brands can begin to engage online users in creative, compelling ways. 

Get in touch with Hybrid for the latest on TikTok gaming and emerging social media trends.