Playbyte’s new app goals to change into the ‘TikTok for video games’ – TechCrunch
A startup called Playbyte wants to become the TikTok for games. The company’s newly launched iOS app has tools that allow users to create and share simple games on their phone, as well as a vertically scrollable, full-screen feed to play games created by others. Just like TikTok, the feed gets more personalized over time to offer more of the types of games you enjoy playing.
While game creation usually involves some aspects of coding, Playbyte’s games are created using simple building blocks, emojis, and even pictures from your camera roll on your iPhone. The idea is to make game creating a different form of self-expression rather than having an introductory, educational experience that tries to teach users the basics of programming.
At its core, Playbyte’s game creation is powered by its lightweight 2D game engine, which is based on web frameworks and enables users to create games that load quickly and can even be played on slow connections and older devices. After you’ve played a game, you can like and comment on buttons on the right side of the screen, which is also very similar to the TikTok look and feel. Over time, Playbyte’s feed will show you more games you liked as the app uses its understanding of in-game images, tags, and descriptions, as well as other interaction analysis, to come up with more games that you think are compelling.
At launch, users have already created a variety of games using Playbyte’s tools – including simulators, tower defense games, combat challenges, obbies, crime series and more.
According to Playbyte founder and CEO Kyle Russell – previously at Skydio, Andreessen Horowitz, and (disclosure!) TechCrunch – Playbyte is meant to be a social media app, not just a games app.
“We have this model in mind for what it takes to build a new social media platform,” he says.
What Twitter did for text, Instagram for photos, and TikTok for video was combine a restriction with a personalized feed, Russell explains. “Typical. [they started] with a focus on making those experiences really short … So a short, constrained format and special tools to prepare you for success to work in that constrained format, “he adds.
Likewise, Playbyte games have their own limitations. In addition to their simplicity, the games are limited to five scenes. Thanks to that limitation, a format has emerged where people develop games that have an intro screen where you click play, a story intro, a challenging gameplay section, and then a story outro.
In addition to the easy-to-use tools for creating games, Playbyte also enables game content to be reused by other game developers. That said, if someone with more experience is creating a game asset using custom logic or putting multiple components together, the rest of the user base can benefit from that work.
“Basically, we want to make it really easy for people who are not that ambitious to still feel like productive, creative game makers,” says Russell. “The key to this will be when you have an idea – like a picture of a game in your head – you should be able to very quickly search for new assets or put together others that you previously saved. And then just add them and combine them – almost like Legos – and build something that fits 90% of your imagination, without any further configuration on your part, ”he says.
Over time, Playbyte plans to monetize its feed with branded advertising, for example by allowing developers to incorporate sponsored assets into their games. She also wants to establish a kind of patronage model at a later date. This could either include subscriptions or even NFTs of the games, but this would go further into the future.
The startup originally started as a web app in 2019, but at the end of last year the team abandoned this plan and rewrote everything as a native iOS app with its own game engine. This app was released on the App Store this week after previously exhausting TestFlight’s limit of 10,000 users.
It is currently catching on with younger teenagers who are active in TikTok and other collaborative games such as Roblox, Minecraft or Fortnite.
“These are young people who feel inspired to make their own games but are intimidated by the need to learn to code or use other advanced tools, or who simply don’t have a computer at home to access them Tools makes it possible, ”notes Russell.
Playbyte is backed by $ 4 million in pre-seed and seed funding from investors such as FirstMark (Rick Heitzmann), Ludlow Ventures (Jonathon Triest and Blake Robbins), Dream Machine (former editor-in-chief at TechCrunch, Alexia Bonatsos) and Engeln like Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase; Nate Mitchell, co-founder of Oculus; Ashita Achuthan, previously from Twitter; and other.
The app is a free download from the App Store.