Recently, a mini mobile game called “Tiao yi tiao” (simply meaning “Jump Jump”) has become a major hit among Chinese audiences. Players need only tap their smartphone screen to move a black block from one platform to another, and the duration of the tap depending on the distance between platforms. Each successful jump gains a score. Players are ranked among their WeChat friends with their scores.
This simple game has attracted more than 170 million daily active players and was among 17 mini-games released by Tencent, the world largest gaming company by operation revenue, on December 28, 2017.
According to WeChat’s official definition, mini-games fall within its mini-programs category. They are accessible instantly, without downloading or installation, making them easy and convenient to play. Users can play and complete with their WeChat friends, or watch others play. The goal of mini-games is clear — to meet the sizeable demand among users for social games.
Within 20 days, these mini-games have attracted more than 310 million players, indicating that Tencent has reached quite an achievement within weeks, especially considering the total number of mobile game players in China during 2017 was only 400 million.
According to Sun Chunguang, product director of WeChat games, mini-games are designed to cultivate users’ habit of playing within the WeChat ecosystem. As of the third quarter of 2017, the number of monthly WeChat active users had reached 980 million. Sun believes that all of these users could be potential players for the platform’s mini-games.
About 37% of players of the mini games are active users of app-based games whereas 22% never played mobile games before. The retention rate of the aforementioned Jump game stood at 65% on its first day, and further down to 52% a week after, Sun said on WeChat Open Class.
Compared to online games, the WeChat mini-games are easier to be accessed and developed, and much more functional. Mini games are like the “infants” of WeChat platform. Sun believes that these games will have a brighter future than online games. He said that more online game developers may transition to developing mini-games.
In terms of business operation, Sun commented that the huge number of active users are worth the investment of advertisers. Priced virtual props within games, for instance, will generate revenue in the future.
As the “sub-applications” within the WeChat ecosystem, the mini-program platform has been developed in various models, such as video mini-programs, music mini-programs, e-commerce mini-programs, bike-sharing mini programs, and more. Now, more and more mobile application developers are at work on WeChat mini-programs.
Will mini-games come to have a strong impact on the gaming industry? Let’s wait and see.
（Top photo from ATA)