You want to develop a viral game that will impress young people.
But, you are not sure what kind of games they might enjoy?
You don’t need fancy paid tools to figure this out. There is no better place to look for ideas than their favorite social network — TikTok. Especially if your target audience is Gen Z.
In this article, we’ll show you how you can leverage TikTok game ideas and become the next gaming craze!
Trends as Mobile Game Inspiration
Inspiration for a game can come from anywhere.
For example, from a book, a tv show, the top charts, a street situation, or something your grandma has told you.
Yet, it often feels like every single mobile game idea has already been used. This is especially true for the hyper-casual games market. Thousands of developers publish new titles every day, in the hopes that players will notice them.
The question is — what draws the players’ attention to a game?
Among other things, familiarity.
If players stumble upon a game that reminds them of something they have already seen somewhere, this might make them hit the “install” button. For instance, a recent TikTok trend in the form of a game.
When was the last time you heard of a viral trend that started on Facebook?
If you can’t think of any, it’s because it was probably a long time ago.
While Facebook used to be a place where trends are born, nowadays, TikTok is the go-to place for discovering viral content.
Another reason for leveraging TikTok game ideas is the platform’s huge gaming community. According to TikTok, gaming is one of the most popular categories on the app, increasing by 2.3x year-on-year from 2021 to 2022.
This platform’s gaming community is so significant that, in 2022, TikTok entered the mobile gaming arena. Within the app, users can now find mini-games developed in partnerships with different studios.
Identifying Useful TikTok Game Ideas
There are billions of videos and hashtags on TikTok.
Obviously, not all of them are meant to become mobile games.
When watching these videos, it’s important you don’t only watch as a user, but also as the game developer that you are. Here is a process you can follow to determine if you should turn a TikTok video into a game.
1. Make Sure the Video Has Enough Views
Generally, videos with at least 10 million views have a better chance of becoming marketable game prototypes.
These videos already have widespread popularity.
Not only that, but they usually result in thousands of clone videos made by other users. Sum it all up, and you have a lot of people that will find your game concept familiar. All in all, the more views the video has, the more likely it is to yield good performance KPIs.
2. Sketch the Game
Hyper-casual developers often get carried with ideas that are overly ambitious. After spending some time and money on the idea, they come to the conclusion that they can’t create the game they imagined.
Don’t make this newbie mistake.
To determine whether a video can actually be turned into a game, make sure to pinpoint how it would work. You can do this by asking yourself these three questions:
- What would be the game’s primary mechanic?
- What would be its main objective?
- How would its progression system work?
If everything checks out and you’re confident that you can actually build a great game, it’s time to start developing it.
3. See if the CPI is low enough
Once you build a playable prototype, you need to test it and let the audience determine its faith.
There is no other way to know if your game is marketable.
If the CPI turns out to be significantly higher than your target, don’t waste more time on it. It is a better idea to proceed to another video and create a new prototype. Since TikTok trends change rapidly, there is always a new bandwagon for you to jump on.
Latest vs. Established Trends
When it comes to identifying trends, there are two common approaches. Your game can be based on:
A) A hot new trend
B) A trend that has been around for a while
Naturally, each approach has its pros and cons — let’s go over them.
Leverage a Hot New Trend
Do you want to be in the spotlight, even if only for a short period of time?
In that case, try developing a game that is based on a new TikTok sensation. If you do a good job at it, you’ll have a great chance of quickly reaching the app stores’ top charts. But beware — your game might lose its fame just as quickly as it gained it.
As we said before, TikTok trends change in a heartbeat.
When they are at their peak, they get the attention of millions of users. But, most of them get old pretty quickly. The same thing usually happens with the games based on them.
The silver lining here is pretty obvious.
Before falling off the charts, these games can get a huge scale and earn a lot of money.
Discovering the Latest Trends
To find the latest, hottest trends, you should keep an eye out for recent videos with astronomically high view counts.
TikTok has a feature that can help you with that called Trend Discovery. With it, you can find trending videos and hashtags, songs, and creators.
Using this tool, we were able to find some trending hashtags over the last 30 days in the US This includes:
- #voiceeffects (a new filter that transforms people’s voices in a video)
Do any of these strike you as game material?
From our point of view, it would be the voice effect filter and the World Cup. You can do this kind of research regularly, not only by hashtag but also by other criteria.
Eventually, you might find your golden goose.
Tips for Building a Game on a Hot Trend
If you’re considering this approach, you should also know that a lot of the competitors are doing the same thing.
For this reason, it’s critical that you always act quickly. Here are a couple of tips that can help you speed things up:
- Focus on developing and testing a simple prototype
- Make sure the prototype accurately reflects the trend
- Start by building only three to five levels
- Purchase game assets rather than creating them
- Make a template you can use for each new prototype
Using Trends That Pass the Test of Time
Have you noticed how certain trends don’t seem to go away?
Some types of social media content last for months, even years.
In a lot of cases, these are trends inspired by things and activities from everyday life. Here is an overview of some of the hashtags that have been popular for a long time :
Can you see what all these have in common?
All of them are relatable or meet specific needs. These hashtags are typically used in videos that are enjoyable to watch, soothing, or highlight achievements or self-expression.
To create a game based on such trends, game developers first need to understand why users find them so captivating. Based on that, they can develop games that generate the same level of motivation.
Tips for Building a Game on a Long-Standing Trend
A game built around an established trend has the potential to become timeless.
But for that to happen, the game NEEDS to be great.
As opposed to the games inspired by recent trends, you’ll need to spend more time building them. In this case — you can’t rely just on the trends’ popularity, or your development speed.
However, you can attract attention and stand out among the competitors by having a high-quality game.
TikTok Game Ideas That Became Popular Games
Theory without practice is sterile. Practice without theory is blind.
To make sure this article is more than just dry theory, let’s complete it with examples of TikTok game ideas that reached the top charts.
Fidget Toys Trading: 3D Pop It
Remember the period when almost everyone owned a fidget spinner?
Well, in 2021, this and other fidget toys made a grand comeback. People all around the world started using them to relax, unwind and have fun . Naturally, they started sharing this on TikTok as well.
One particular video concept went viral — users trading their fidget toys with one another.
Game developers quickly noticed this trend.
Hence, they started developing games where players can do the same thing — trade fidget toys. Multiple games of this kind have received millions of downloads, but one title managed to stand out from the crowd. Released in July 2021, Fidget Toys Trading: 3D Pop It by Freeplay Inc. became an instant hit.
In this game, players exchange their fidget toys and try to get the best deal. Besides the tradeoff, people also play this game because of the calming effect of fidget toys.
As you can see from the iOS chart, the game’s downloads skyrocketed as soon as it was launched. The same thing happened on Google Play, where it received over 50 million lifetime downloads.
Another thing you can notice from the chart is that this game was built on one of those hot, but short-time trends.
Nevertheless, it didn’t die out completely. Once the trend faded away, its downloads significantly decreased, but they remained on a similar level until today. This is probably because the game was not based merely on the trading trend — its relaxing features are timeless.
Makeup Kit Color Mixing by Crazy Labs
Crazy Labs has published a lot of titles based on TikTok game ideas, and Makeup Kit Color Mixing is one of their latest releases. Published in July 2022, this game generated more than 10 million downloads on Google Play.
This game was inspired by a series of viral TikTok videos by the same artist. The user started creating these videos in March 2022, and they quickly went viral, with the most popular video receiving 29 million views. In all these videos, the artist creates eyeshadow palettes based on colors from popular image illustrations (eg Disney princesses).
Right off the bat, it’s clear that these videos are great game material.
They are creative, oddly satisfying, and simple to implement. Also, they draw inspiration from real-life objects.
Based on all this, the developer built a simulation game with a color-mixing core mechanic. Just like in the videos, players get an illustration to pick out colors from. Then, they blend these colors into a palette of different eyeshadows.
This game’s mechanics may be simple and repetitive, but it’s still captivating. The thing is, users can play the same level repeatedly, and they will get a different result every time.
This game’s download history demonstrates how powerful TikTok trends can be. Right after it was released, the title became immensely popular. Even though that’s no longer the case, it still has a steady flow of downloads.
TikTok Game Ideas: Key Takeaways
Social trends have always been a major force behind hyper-casual game development. Today, the majority of them appear on TikTok, so it’s very important that game developers keep an eye out for TikTok game ideas.
Let’s sum up some of the main things you should remember from this article:
- Games based on trends feel familiar. Since trends already have their audiences, games based on them might result in high marketability.
- Look for trends and identify user motivations. Besides just scrolling TikTok, use its business tools to identify trends. Also, try to understand why they are popular and if they are here to stay.
- You can’t gamify every trend. Don’t waste time on trends you can’t turn into a simple game concept.
- Leverage a new or long-standing trend. Both of these approaches can be profitable, but require different amounts of time and effort.
- Build the game for the long run. Even if your game is based on a recent trend, it should still have a good amount of content and retention features.
Get Your Game Published
Already have some fresh ideas or prototypes you want to test?
Ciao Games, MAF’s publishing branch, can help you get your game published. We believe every game can be an asset, so we don’t eliminate them based on impossible test objectives. If you want to find out more, feel free to reach out to us!