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TikTok Is Experimenting With HTML5-Based Mobile Games

TikTok is looking for the next FarmVille.

TechCrunch reports(Opens in a new window) that the company recently introduced the ability to launch games—starting with seven titles developed by its partners—by tapping a link from the currently playing video. And it’s doing so with HTML5-based games, which can be played from within TikTok’s in-app browser, rather than native titles developed specifically for iOS or Android.

Those games were made by existing mobile development studios: Nitro Games(Opens in a new window) made Peek a Who and Space Destroyer; Voodoo(Opens in a new window) made Influencer Run and Pride Run; and FRVR(Opens in a new window) made Basketball FRVR. (TechCrunch also lists a game called Tap the Difference from Lotem. I couldn’t find a company with that name, but there is an existing mobile games studio called Lotum(Opens in a new window).)

TikTok has also convinced Aim Lab, which makes an “aim trainer” of the same name for PC, to release a mobile game called Mr. Aim Lab’s Nightmare as part of this initial experiment:

The decision to support HTML5 games rather than native titles makes sense for a few reasons. The first is that it means TikTok isn’t sending users to the App Store, Google Play, or the game itself. This makes the ability to launch games more convenient for users while simultaneously allowing TikTok and its partners to avoid the restrictions Apple and Google put on their platforms.

None of the games in this initial batch take advantage of this freedom, TechCrunch reports, but embracing HTML5 affords TikTok the ability to modify its approach in the future. (At least until Apple and Google enforce whatever policies they have in place against monetizing browser-based games in native apps.) Its next moves probably depend on how popular these games are.

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This approach has worked out before. Just look at FarmVille: The New York Times reports(Opens in a new window) that the game peaked at “32 million daily active users and nearly 85 million players over all,” which “helped transform Facebook from a place you went to check in on updates—mostly in text form—from friends and family into a time-eating destination itself.” (Thanks, Zynga!)

Meta has been tripping over himself to make Facebook and Instagram more like TikTok. Now, by embracing browser-based games, TikTok is making its platform more like the Facebook of yore. Even if none of these games are the next FarmVille, this experiment shows that TikTok is willing to learn from its competitors instead of being content with its current popularity.

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