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TikTok is the origin of many online trends, but gaming companies are still figuring out to how maximize results on the platform. In the fragmented content landscape, TikTok’s niche is driving discoverability. This presents a unique opportunity to build community at launch and stay relevant long term.
At GamesBeat Summit 2023, Niantic CMO Mike Quigley and TikTok’s Assaf Sagy, head of global gaming, and Rema Vasan, head of global gaming business marketing, joined us to discuss TikTok’s influence on gaming and their partnership to launch the developer’s brand new IP Peridot.
Changing launch landscape
Whether its improvements in technology, changes in media consumption habits or the rogue pandemic, game publishers must constantly evolve their launch strategy. While there has been tremendous growth in the games industry, this is leading to a new set of challenges for game publishers.
“The number of people playing games has been growing for the last 15 years to more than 3 billion, but its plateaued. Meanwhile, the number of publishers and new title launches have been growing so we have a supply and demand imbalance,” Sagy said.
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This has led more competition to acquire and retain players. At the same time, changes to user privacy — especially on mobile — has made it even more difficult to target potential players efficiently. “There are pretty much infinite channels to reach users now. You have to be smart, deliberate and focused about how you will reach your audience,” said Quigley.
Instead of solely focusing on optimizing UA, marketers need to rethink their strategy and decide which platform to prioritize. “For Gen Z, I think TikTok is the place you have to be in the right way.”
Scope of TikTok’s cultural impact
While industry leaders understand the importance of TikTok, it can be easy to underestimate just how influential it is without data to back it up. For the first time ever, Sagy revealed that gaming content drove over 3 trillion views on TikTok in 2022. Moreover, Approximately 500 million — half of TikTok’s 1 monthly active users — watch gaming content.
More importantly, this translates to business results. 75% of TikTok users discover new games on the platform. Furthermore, 36% of users reported downloading a game they found on TikTok.
“Because we are an entertainment platform, there’s so much more than just the core community. People are discovering games through the intersectionality of their interests,” Vasan said.
Crossovers with different types of content and communities can naturally introduce a game to new audiences. Creating this cultural impact is essential for driving discovery.
Of course, TikTok’s cultural influence is a double-edged sword. Governments around the world are considering regulation or bans — most recently in Montana. The company filed a lawsuit hours before the panel to fight the ban. Also, TikTok’s leaders have made efforts to address privacy concerns through Project Texas.
Of course, this creates some uncertainty. “We absolutely need to make sure our users are safe, that their privacy is kept and they are secure on the platform. But beyond that, we want to become the most trusted brand in the world,” said Sagy. “It’s a big aspiration but we’ve put together a substantive and robust solution to work with the concerns of the U.S. government around national security or any government around the world.”
Behind the scenes, TikTok has a robust support system for brands and IP holders that want to develop their presence on the platform. While each brand brings its own voice to TikTok, ultimately the goal is to inspire TikTok’s creator community to build around your hashtag.
“This is the flywheel effect. Brands inject their values but then the community innovates around that,” Sagy confirmed.
Launching Niantic’s Peridot
Niantic and TikTok began their partnership around two years ago with Pokémon Go. While the game launched before TikTok rose to its current heights, the title has found a strong audience on the platform. In 2022, its tagged videos brought in over 12 billion views. Both the learning experience and these results made Niantic lean in when launching their first IP since Ingress.
Peridot is an AR-only game where players raise and breed pets. The title is targeting Gen Z and younger millennials. Given its high device requirements, its audience skews towards higher socioeconomic areas particularly big cities.
“Building original IP is hard and its getter harder,” said Quigley. “Peridot is proactively leaning in and giving users the permission to play with the IP on TikTok. On May 31, the companies are teaming up for the creator effect house challenge which makes assets easily available to creators, reducing friction. Quigley pointed to Genshin Impact’s creator effect house challenge as inspiration. “This activation is one small but important step to building original IP.”
While Peridot launched less than two weeks ago, its early results are encouraging. Peridot has outperformed a typical TikTok brand campaign. The title’s hashtags have earned 124 million views and users are recognizing Peridot 10-times more often than an average brand campaign. For the game itself, Peridot is closing in on 1 million installs — not bad for a game with higher than average device requirements.
Advice for developers and publishers
While it can be intimidating to add another channel to your marketing, TikTok and Niantic did offer some advice to developers and IP holders.
“Go beyond the gameplay. Figure out the elements of your game that you can create a culture around. Figure out which communities beyond gaming that your title will appeal to,” said Vasan. In addition to embracing creators and being authentic, she also pointed out the importance of getting comfortable with giving up control. In order to start the flywheel, publishers must give creators the power to put their own spin on your IP.
Experimentation is a must to figure out which types of content will work for TikTok’s algorithm. Quigley emphasized that marketers should experiment with this in mind. Moreover, complimenting experimentation with TikTok’s paid features can help a good video snowball even further. “It’s a powerful 1, 2 punch with TikTok, but you won’t know what to amplify if you don’t experiment,” he said.
Finally, Sagy encouraged developers to reach out as early as possible before launch. “We’re not only showing the platform, but we are engaged in your creator strategy and which communities you want to engage.”
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