Video Games Have a New Way to Find an Audience: TikTok

It's never been easier to release a game, but it's never been harder to get people to pay attention to one. Hundreds, if not thousands, of new games are released every day, not to mention the deluge of streaming content and life's many other time sinks. 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/93yk7a/video-games-have-a-new-way-to-find-an-audience-tiktok
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I never feel more like a boomer until I hear about all the things that are happening on TikTok. While I still indirectly get a lot of TikTok content through Twitter, it still baffles me when TikTok can directly impact peoples’ careers like musicians getting record deals or like how Patrick talks about here with game marketing. Tiktok is just so easy to dismiss.

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This is both entirely understandable and very odd to me, because Tiktok has significantly more active users than Twitter? In the US it’s like 30% more; globally I think it’s almost double. But like you’d never know that, because it’s so generational at this point. I’m in my mid-20s and I feel like I’m really damn old for that app.

Something I think this article kinda gestures to but doesn’t make obvious though is that Tiktok is way, way more conducive to virality than other social media platforms, because the algorithm prioritizes videos from accounts that you don’t follow, and instead just relies on a sometimes scarily accurate algorithm to feed you things it thinks you’ll be interested in. So if someone likes a game and makes a tiktok about it, even if that person themself doesn’t have particularly many followers, it can blow up pretty easily, I’ve absolutely bought multiple games after seeing them on Tiktok and thinking they looked interesting — Turnip Boy was the main one I remember. It is honestly terrifyingly good at figuring out your taste and feeding you things that reinforce that, for better or worse.

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I think I’m happy to just get the very best of TikTok whenever someone posts something from it on a platform I’m signed up to [which honestly mostly means Discord channels now], but it also always surprises me when people are surprised that it’s influential: the history of social media platforms has always been that they could “make popularity” - even MySpace managed that, and it was a far far less polished thing than TikTok is.

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I don’t follow Your Mom’s House anymore, but I also have a bad impression of TIkTok because of Christina’s weekly TIktok “curations”. She always found the weirdest and most unfortunate users to highlight. There’s also Youtube and Facebook trying to implement their own “shorts” video content. I usually ignore those, but sometimes youtube has some alright ones from creators I already follow.

YouTube can be really hit or miss. I watch a lot of cat videos as an example so I end up with a lot of animal related shorts often which is fine because most of them are just cute cats, dogs or birds. But I have had an instance where the algorithm decided to show me a truly horrific and distressing animal video.

Other times I feel like YouTube gets stuck on trying to show me content from people I have no interest in watching and no matter what I do I can’t seem to stop them from showing up. I really have no interest in watching terrible over exaggerated card opening videos YouTube please just stop.

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TikTok’s ability to make lesser-known user’s videos viral is a double-edged sword because it means the likelihood of a user forming a longterm viewer-base is extremely tough. The cynic in me says that the TikTok brand has found success by actively spreading the viewerbase (other than a few supermassive ones in each category) in order to limit the number of creators they need to listen to since success is so fleeting.

I personally don’t use TikTok now because if I’m going to be investing time into a video site, I want that time to be spent seeing the same people’s work grow over time.

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On some level, writing this piece was just me trying to get past my own TikTok hangups.

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My partner absolutely bought Turnip Boy after watching a tiktok about it. I’ve played the first hour or so of it too! Pretty nifty. It’s hard to tell what’s a paid influencer bit on tiktok and what’s not. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the hashtag #ad being used on tiktok the way I see it on twitter and instagram (and twitch even though hashtags aren’t a thing there) (The actual sponsored ads on tiktok are rather easy to spot)

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