EXCLUSIVE TikTok plans big push into gaming, testing in Vietnam: sources

The TikTok app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken on July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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HONG KONG/HANOI, May 19 (Reuters) – TikTok has been testing users to play games on its video-sharing app in Vietnam as part of plans to give gaming a big boost, four people familiar with the matter said. the topic.

Featuring games on its platform would increase ad revenue as well as the amount of time users spend on the app, one of the most popular in the world with more than a billion monthly active users.

With a tech-savvy population with 70% of its citizens under the age of 35, Vietnam is an attractive market for social media platforms such as TikTok, Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) Facebook and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) YouTube and Google.

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TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, also plans to roll out games more widely in Southeast Asia, the people said. That move could come as early as the third quarter, two of them said.

The sources declined to be identified as the information has not yet been released publicly.

A TikTok representative said the company has tested bringing HTML5 games, a common form of mini-game, to its app through partnerships with third-party game developers and studios like Zynga Inc (ZNGA.O). But he declined to comment on his plans for Vietnam or his broader gaming ambitions.

“We are always looking for ways to enrich our platform and regularly test new features and integrations that bring value to our community,” the representative said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

ByteDance did not respond to a request for comment.

Reuters was unable to learn of TikTok’s plans to roll out gaming features in other markets. Although TikTok users can watch streaming games, in most regions they cannot play games within the TikTok app.

In the US, it seems like only a handful of games have been released, including Zynga’s “Disco Loco 3D,” a music and dance challenge game, and “Garden of Good,” where players grow vegetables to generate TikTok donations to the nonprofit organization Feeding. America.

According to two sources, TikTok plans to be based primarily on ByteDance’s suite of games.

While the company will start with minigames, which tend to have simple gameplay mechanics and short playtime, its gaming ambitions extend beyond that, said one of the people with direct knowledge of the matter.

TikTok will require a license to present games on its platform in Vietnam, where authorities restrict games that depict gambling, violence and sexual content. The process is expected to go smoothly as the planned games are non-controversial, the person said.

Vietnam’s foreign and communications ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

Douyin users of ByteDance, the Chinese version of TikTok, have been able to play games on the platform since 2019.

TikTok games are likely to feature ads from the start, with revenue split between ByteDance and the game developers, another source said.

TikTok’s foray into gaming mirrors similar efforts by major tech companies looking to retain users. Facebook launched Instant Games in 2016 and streaming company Netflix (NFLX.O) also recently added games to its platform.

It also marks ByteDance’s latest effort to establish itself as a major competitor in gaming. Last year it acquired Shanghai-based game studio Moonton Technology, putting it in direct competition with Tencent (0700.HK), China’s biggest game company.

Even without games, TikTok has seen ad revenue rise. Its ad revenue is likely to triple this year to more than $11 billion, surpassing the combined sales of Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Snap Inc (SNAP.N), according to research firm Insider Intelligence. read more

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Reporting by Josh Ye in Hong Kong and Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi; Edited by Miyoung Kim and Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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