Jinri Toutiao, an information platform app of ByteDance, announced on June 14 that it has launched a new service “Jinri Games (今日游戏)”. The service is currently only available for Android users.
The service at the moment allows downloads, recommendations, and gift collection. Entry to the service is under Jinri Toutiao App’s My Wallet (我的钱包) section.
The launch signals Jinri Toutiao’s formal moves into games’ distribution and operation. As Jinri Toutiao put entry to games under the App’s My Wallet sector, it’s very likely few games would be free. The initiative behind was clear: generating revenues and cash rewards for both partner games and the platform itself.
This slightly differs from some mini program games on WeChat from Tencent, Chinese social network giant and ByteDance’s major rival at present, though both Jinri Toutiao and WeChat are leaders in China’s data traffic games. By encouraging players to share scores and performance ranking lists, free-entry WeChat games such as The Strongest Bomb (最强弹一弹) weigh social networking more.
Currently displayed at Jinri Toutiao’s game service include Chinese online game Chu Liuxiang (楚留香), a Chinese ancient legend IP empowered game, and Identity V (第五人格), an indie-game-like online multi-player strategy and psychology game. The two games are both developed by NetEase and are already popular in Chinese game market.
Jinri Toutiao’s data traffic advantage would be a natural catalyst for the games’ further potential growths. The market expects Jinri Toutiao’s total users to be around 100 million. Though still behind Tencent WeChat’s 1 billion monthly active global users, such a huge Chinese platform for game purchase is still attractive to developers, particularly for game studios’ “traffic buy” (买量) strategy.
Commercial and indie game studios in China are now investing in channels including communities, platforms, live-streaming, and other non-traditional media areas to boost exposure and players’ purchase willingness. A source with knowledge of the matter says, due to fierce competition and other related issues, platforms such as Steam, one of the biggest game distribution and players’ community in the world, are seeing the slowly declining influence in promoting Chinese games. As a result, game studios without sufficient capital and other resource back-ups are diversifying their distribution plans and cooperation strategies to hedge market fluctuations. Jinri Toutiao may be an appealing option.
Meanwhile, game business is another risk-hedger for Jinri Toutiao itself. The company has recently been the target of state-criticism since it allowed distribution of content that insulted national heroes. The high administrative risk and relatively low revenue business, compared to commercial games and other related projects, would be the last the company wants to maintain in the near future.