A TikTok Guide for Indie Game Developers — Boost Your Game

Game Devs, it’s time to go on TikTok. Especially you, Indie Devs.

TikTok at Gamescom 2022. Photo by Wayne Emanuel

TikTok, known as Douyin in China, is owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, recently valued at $300 billion according to Reuters. The app was initially launched in 2016 and is known for its short-form videos, allowing you to easily create and share content that reaches billions of views. Available in over 150 countries with more than 1 billion monthly active users whose majority are aged between 20 and 29, TikTok’s unique algorithm is changing the way social media works, it has become a powerful marketing tool for businesses, and will soon innovate the way we play games.

So why should you care as an Indie dev?

Because “more than half of TikTok users watch gaming-related short video content daily” (TikTok internal data, 2022), and the way the For You Feed works allows you to reach new audiences without limits. In fact, you don’t need a pre-existing audience, which makes TikTok a great place to grow.

Facebook is dead, Instagram's organic reach is declining, and Twitter's latest news aren’t the best. Many game developers are falling behind as TikTok expands at an astounding rate because they aren’t using the platform.

Additionally, TikTok can help you survive through Indiepocalypse — a term for how indie game development has become more difficult due to a multitude of factors, including the oversaturation of games on the market. There are too many games being released and not enough marketing budgets to go around, leading to a situation where smaller studios have been left without funding because they cannot compete with larger companies. Game developer Rami Ismail — creator of the Levelling The Playing Field newsletter — and Andrew aka Pizza Pranks — creator of the Indiepocalypse monthly anthology of curated games —, are two knowledgeable people you should follow on the subject.

#GamingOnTikTok — A new gaming platform

Similarly to Netflix joining the gaming market, social media and entertainment giants understand the huge potential of the gaming market, and TikTok couldn’t be different.

“Nearly 3.2 billion people will play games in 2022, spending a combined total of $196.8 billion. And our forecasts show that the market will continue to grow in the following years.” — Newzoo Global Games Market Report 2022

Back in May, Reuters reported TikTok ran gaming trials in Vietnam (a country where 70% of its citizens are under the age of 35, making it attractive to social media platforms) so that users could play games in-app.

Around September, ByteDance reportedly downsized its gaming division and laid off hundreds of employees.

On November 2nd, TikTok’s first-ever global gaming event TikTok Made Me Play It, was announced. You’re welcome to watch the recorded stream here.

Some of the takeaways and data from the stream:

Case Studies: How TikTok helped indie games go viral

Tips and tricks to market your game on TikTok

Thanks for reading this far.

PS: There are so many great resources and articles out there with amazing tips for Indie Game Developers to embark on the TikTok gaming journey, that I wished I could compile them all here. Don’t give up indie devs! After all, the hardest part is always getting started.