In recent weeks, TikTok has started testing offering a small collection of mini-games within its app, TechCrunch reports. There are nine games available as part of this initiative, which can be added to a video before it’s uploaded by using the “Add link” option and selecting “MiniGame.” Viewers can play a linked game by tapping the link that appears underneath the account’s username while a video is playing. When playing a game, there’s the option to record gameplay and subsequently post it as a TikTok.
A TikTok spokesperson confirmed the pilot in a statement given to TechCrunch: “We’re always looking at ways to enrich our platform and regularly test new features and integrations that bring value to our community. Currently, we’re exploring bringing HTML5 games to TikTok through integrations with third-party game developers and studios.” TechCrunch reports that the test is designed to explore how TikTok’s users interact with and create content around, the games.
TechCrunch reports that the games are available in the US, and we’ve verified that they’re also present in the UK version of the app. The nine games are developed by several third-party gaming studios, according to TechCrunch, including Vodoo, Nitro Games, FRVR, Aim Lab, and Lotem. Reuters notes that ByteDance purchased a game studio of its own last year — Shanghai-based Moonton Technology.
The launch of the pilot follows a report from Reuters that TikTok is planning to make a “major push” into gaming. The service is believed to be exploring the area as a way to encourage users to spend more time in the app and increase its advertising revenue. None of the current games appear to contain ads or offer in-app purchases, two common methods of monetizing mobile games.
TikTok is just the latest social media platform to explore using games as a way to increase engagement. Early on in its history, Facebook courted app developers to build games and other services on its platform, which Zynga used to create one of the most popular social games of all time in the form of FarmVille (this episode of Land of the Giants offers a great look at this period of Facebook’s history). And just this week, Snap brought an augmented reality game to Snapchat. Even Netflix is attempting to use games as a way to offer more value to its subscribers.
ByteDance’s social media platform is no stranger to gaming. Reuters previously reported that games have been playable via the Chinese version of the app (Douyin) since 2019, and it already allows users to livestream games played elsewhere. Last November, it announced a deal with Zynga to bring a game called Disco Loco 3D exclusively to TikTok (although, confusingly, this game sits outside of the new “MiniGame” section of the “Add link” menu), and as of this month, it also offers another game called Garden of Good.
This latest rollout suggests TikTok’s plans for gaming on its platform are bigger still. The company did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.