Tech

TikTok Launches HTML5 Games Pilot Program

What happened now? After months of reports, one of TikTok’s first forays into gaming has come to light. Users in multiple countries can now play HTML5-based minigames on the service. TikTok is the latest non-gaming service to break into this sector.

TikTok users in some countries, including the US, can now upload videos that contain links to a small set of HTML5-based minigames. The new feature is a test to see if games can be the next magnet for interaction on the platform.

In the last steps before downloading a TikTok video, users will find “Mini Game” as an option under Add Link. The option allows them to attach one of seven smaller games from companies such as FRVR, Lotum, Nitro, Voodoo and Aim Lab to their video. Viewers watching the video can click on the link to start playing on the TikTok app. One game, for example, involves comparing two seemingly identical images before clicking on the difference between them.

In November, TikTok announced a partnership with Zynga to develop Disco Loco. Reports that TikTok is testing HTML5 games in Southeast Asian countries are also appeared in May. The company has never officially announced this initiative, but confirmed about the existence of the TechCrunch games last Thursday, highlighting that they were in early testing in several countries for at least a couple of weeks.

The move is likely another acknowledgment that various forms of media, including video games, video streaming, social media, and others, compete for viewers’ attention. Netflix admitted that Fortnite is a serious competitor in 2019 and since then included subscription games. TikTok’s goal is to see how games affect users’ screen time on the platform.

Unlike HTML5, Netflix’s approach allows subscribers to download a selection of mobile games from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, making it a big competitor to Apple Arcade. TikTok and Netflix’s mobile gaming initiatives contrast with those of Facebook and Microsoft, which Apple has notoriously blocked.

In 2020, Microsoft and Facebook criticized Apple for blocking their cloud gaming apps but allowing TV and movie streaming apps like Netflix. Microsoft got around this with a browser-accessible web page. Netflix Game Subscriptions avoided this problem by offering mobile games through the App Store in accordance with Apple’s policies. These rules don’t seem to apply to TikTok HTML5 minigames.


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