How TikTok is Planning to Compete in the Gaming Scene


Serge Sinyutin

TikTok's rise to dominance in the realm of social media can be attributed to its unique ability to connect culture with popular consumer categories, ranging from fashion and cosmetics to entertainment. The latest frontier that TikTok is setting its sights on is gaming.

According to internal company data, approximately 50% of TikTok's 1 billion daily active users engaged with gaming content in 2022, demonstrating a substantial interest that the platform hopes will attract marketers. Furthermore, 82% of TikTok users play games at least once a week. Those numbers seem like a goldmine for video game companies. 

Twitch and YouTube are the main power players in the gaming world—how is TikTok hoping to enter this fold?

While you can stream on TikTok and even simulcast on multiple platforms, TikTok's gaming content is more than just gameplay or tips and tricks; it's a celebration of the gaming culture, reflecting characters and themes in everyday life. This unique content resonates with users, fostering a sense of community that extends beyond gaming.

It highlighted the importance for brands to view their content as intellectual property (IP) and to understand the culture of the game they represent. The key is to bring that culture to life on TikTok, allowing creators to leverage characters, music, and edits, while users actively engage with and build upon the brand's content. TikTok's gaming culture isn't confined to stereotypical gamers; it spans various interests, including fashion, beauty, and cooking. Non-gaming brands, such as E.l.f. Cosmetics have successfully tapped into this diverse gaming culture, showcasing talents beyond gaming through activations like "Gamers Got Talent."

Publishers are launching games with culturally relative entertainment in mind. A lot of new users being acquired are actually not gamers. By pushing TikTok trends, challenges and even live-action video filters/games, the developers are able to reach a new audience. The latest phenomenon known as “TikTok Made Me Play It” is having a real significant impact on game launches and their discoveries. 

Additionally, contrary to the perception that gaming marketing is primarily for Gen Z, gaming appeals to all generations. TikTok's gaming trends report encourages brands to focus on actionable entertainment, user-generated content  trends, and challenges. Additionally, creating space for joy is crucial, as gaming plays a significant role in fostering happiness.

TikTok’s Discovery and Growth Potential

While gaming content thrives on other platforms, TikTok’s unique format has fundamentally changed the landscape. Short form video has lowered the barrier to entry. Rather than livestreaming for hours or editing long-form videos — which require major time investments — short form video can be produced faster. In turn, this allows for more experimentation and iteration over time. As a result, this creates major opportunities for user generated content. While dance trends or challenges are the obvious case studies, creating trends also happens in gaming content.

With TikTok’s unique algorithm, serving unexpected content can come in numerous forms. Gaming content is served to the wider community beyond the typical audiences. As a result, gaming content can have a wider impact on mainstream culture. Part of the reason why gaming has grown so rapidly on TikTok is that the platform naturally drives inclusive content. Toxicity in gaming can be difficult to manage, but the platform’s algorithm sorts for content that resonates with a broad audience.

While TikTok has already been driving culture on its own, the platform sees more opportunities to make inroads into gaming. Esports — particularly mobile titles — are a key focus for TikTok. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, a mobile MOBA, has quietly grown into a major esports title. In January, the platform sponsored and streamed the game’s M4 World Championship. The associated hashtag brought in 4 billion views in one month. On a more domestic front, TikTok also signed a multi-year agreement with the eMLS Cup. The partnership will leverage its creators and MLS stars to promote the league to a new generation of fans.

While the console and PC gaming content is growing on the platform, mobile content has obvious synergy with the mobile-first platform. Adding native livestreaming helps it compete more directly with other platforms. Moreover, Twitch/Youtube is not as optimized for mobile game streaming, creating a key niche for TikTok.


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