Exclusively TikTok planning big push in gaming, testing in Vietnam sources

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

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HONG KONG/HANOI (Reuters) – TikTok is running tests so users can play games on its video-sharing app in Vietnam, four people familiar with the matter said, part of plans for a major push into gaming.

Showing games on its platform will increase ad revenue as well as the amount of time users spend in the app – one of the most popular apps in the world with over a billion monthly active users.

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

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People said TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is also planning to roll out the games more widely in Southeast Asia. Two of them said the move could come as early as the third quarter.

The sources declined to reveal their identity because the information has not yet been disclosed to the public.

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

“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 an emailed statement to Reuters.

ByteDance did not respond to a request for comment.

Reuters was unable to learn about TikTok’s plans to roll out gaming features to other markets. Although TikTok users can watch games that are being streamed, in most regions they are not able to play games within the TikTok app.

In the US, it appears that only a few games have been released, including Zynga’s “Disco Loco 3D,” a challenging music and dance game, and “Garden of Good,” in which players grow vegetables to catalyze TikTok donations to the nonprofit Feeding. USA.

According to two sources, TikTok plans to primarily benefit from the ByteDance gaming suite.

While the company will start with small games, which tend to have simple gameplay mechanics and a short playing time, its gaming ambitions go beyond that, said one of the people with direct knowledge of the matter.

TikTok will request a license to display games on its platform in Vietnam, where authorities restrict games depicting gambling, violence and sexual content. The process is expected to go smoothly because the planned games are not controversial, the person said.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications did not respond to requests for comment.

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

A separate source said that TikTok games are likely to carry ads from the start, with revenue split between ByteDance and game developers.

TikTok’s entry into games reflects similar efforts by major tech companies seeking to retain users. Facebook launched Instant Games in 2016 and streaming company Netflix (NFLX.O) It recently added games to its platform.

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

Even without playing games, TikTok has seen an increase in ad revenue. Its ad revenue is likely to triple this year to more than $11 billion, surpassing Twitter’s total sales. (TWTR.N) and Snap Inc (SNAP.N)According to the research firm Insider Intelligence. Read more

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Additional reporting by Josh Yi in Hong Kong and Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Myung Kim and Edwina Gibbs

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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