Updated on : October 4, 2023
With plans to become the go-to destination for gaming, TikTok could give heavyweights YouTube and Twitch a run for their money.
Once dubbed the dance app, mostly known for viral dance challenges, lip-syncing and memes, TikTok has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years and is now the leading app for creating, sharing, and watching short-form video content.
With 1.6 billion users globally and counting, TikTok’s popularity is hard to ignore, even if you’re a content creator, a brand looking to reach its target audience or a mere internet user.
The social media platform has been at the forefront of the latest cultural trends for years and has come to cater to all types of topical preferences, covering a wide range of interests and serving an endless stream of videos uniquely tailored for each user.
This has also led to intense competition among TikTokers and the emergence of services such as TikCeleb aiming to help content creators grow their accounts.
Keeping in line with its forward-thinking approach, TikTok seems determined to explore new frontiers and it appears that gaming is the next logical step in its evolution. Recent data shows that almost half of the platform’s 1 billion users have watched gaming-related content in 2022.
The fact that the app is riddled with game and gaming hashtags is a clear indicator that interest in this type of content is increasing on the platform and proves that TikTok is serious about boosting its presence in this area.
When it comes to gaming content, Twitch and YouTube are the undisputed leaders. The platforms’ live-streaming features have provided a perfect venue for content creators and gaming enthusiasts at large to come together and share their passion for video games.
The principle behind live game streaming is pretty simple: players broadcast themselves playing video games over the internet and engage with their audience in real-time via a live chat.
Creators have the opportunity to earn revenue through ads, viewer donations or subscriptions, while video game developers get a new channel to promote their products.
The practice started to gain ground around the mid-2010s, with Twitch as the trailblazing platform, and spread progressively across many other services and apps.
These days, live video game streaming has become a big business and the industry is dominated by the likes of YouTube and Twitch which continue to attract large gaming communities and get a lot of traffic from users watching this type of content.
There’s fierce competition between the two platforms, with pros and cons on both sides.
While Twitch was the initiator of the trend and is currently the biggest platform for live streaming with most of its content centred on video games, YouTube seems to have the upper hand when it comes to growth potential for new creators and the ability to adapt its offering to better suit its users’ needs.
TikTok was the 2nd highest revenue-generating non-gaming app globally in May 2021, with over $102M in user spending.
So, where exactly does TikTok fit into the scheme and how does it plan to compete with gaming majors like YouTube and Twitch?
It appears that the short-video app is set to bring a fresh take to this thriving space which would allow them to provide new opportunities for creators, publishers, and users alike.
Although the app launched a subscription included in its TikTok Live service last year and is investing heavily in gaming, enabling gamers to broadcast their skills on the platform, it has no intention to follow in YouTube and Twitch’s footsteps but aims to differentiate itself from other gaming platforms by broadening the definition of gaming.
According to Langer Lee, Global Head of Gaming Content, TikTok is looking beyond the traditional video game live streams we’ve become accustomed to over the years. Most platforms focus solely on providing a space for communal gameplay or for sharing tips and tricks related to gaming.
By comparison, TikTok strives to introduce other elements into the equations such as memes, tutorials, cosplay, stream highlights or discussions on gaming-related topics.
Apart from a more comprehensive understanding of gaming, inclusivity is also high on the agenda for TikTok.
Initiatives like the Women in Gaming program and the LGBT movement Gaymer show that TikTok is committed to giving a voice to niche communities that have until so far been neglected on other platforms.
The app is mostly focused on working closely with all of its stakeholders so they can understand how to serve them best and find the most equitable solutions for everyone. TikTok is open to collaborating with all types of entities, from creators and publishers to indie game developers in order to create a sense of community and ensure the best experience on the platform.
Another notable discrepancy from other platforms is that TikTok places a great deal of importance on the development of organic content. While they also support the trend via paid content, the main purpose is to allow people to come together and form communities naturally.
When it comes to providing gaming content, TikTok doesn’t speak solely to die-hard gamers but offers a space where everyone who’s interested in gaming is welcome.
If TikTok continues on this trajectory, the gaming content could turn the platform into a very appealing venue for marketers targeting gaming audiences and lead to a massive boost in revenue.
At the same time, this would give TikTok the opportunity to bridge gaming, entertainment, and revenue generation, creating a unique space in the digital landscape.
TikTok has emerged as an innovative platform with a strong focus on challenging perceptions and redefining norms, and its current expansion into the gaming realm proves it abundantly.
With gaming culture on TikTok evolving almost as fast as gaming technology itself, we’re bound to see many interesting developments in this area in the future, so YouTube and Twitch better watch out because they have some serious competition ahead.