A startup named Playbyte wants to be a TikTok for games. The company’s newly launched iOS app provides tools that allow users to create and share simple games on their phones, as well as a vertically scrollable, fullscreen feed where you can play games created by others . Also like TikTok, the feed gets more personalized over time to serve you more of the types of games you love to play.
While generally, game creation involves some aspect of coding, Playbyte’s games are built using simple building blocks, emoji, and even images from your camera roll on your iPhone. The idea is to make building games another form of self-expression, rather than some introductory, educational experience, trying to teach users the basics of coding.
At its core, Playbyte’s game creation is powered by its lightweight 2D game engine built on a web framework, which lets users create games that can load and play quickly, even on slow connections and older devices. After playing a game, you can like and comment using the buttons on the right side of the screen, which is also very similar to the TikTok look-and-feel. Over time, Playbyte’s feed shows you more about the games you enjoyed as the app leverages an understanding of in-game imagery, tags and descriptions, and other engagement analytics to serve up more games, It assumes that you will find attractive.
At launch, users have already created a variety of games using Playbyte’s tools – including simulators, tower defense games, combat challenges, obi, murder mystery games, and more.
According to Kyle Russell, founder and CEO of Playbyte — before Skydio, Andreessen Horowitz, and (disclosure!) — Playbyte is meant to be a social media app, not just a game app.
“We have this model in mind of what is needed to build a new social media platform,” he says.
What Twitter did for text, Instagram for photos and TikTok for videos was to combine a constraint with a personal feed, Russell explains. “In general. [they started] With a focus on making these experiences really concise… so a small, limited format and dedicated tools set you up for success to work within that limited format,” he adds.
Similarly, Playbyte games have their limitations. Aside from their simple nature, the games are limited to five scenes. Thanks to this constraint, a format has emerged where people are making games that have an intro screen where you hit “play”, a story intro, a challenging gameplay section, and then a story outro.
In addition to its easy-to-use game building tools, Playbyte also allows game assets to be reused by other game creators. This means that if someone who has more expertise creates game assets using custom logic or who has bundled 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 aren’t too ambitious yet to feel like productive, creative game makers,” Russell says. “The key to this will be that if you have an idea – such as an image of a game in your mind – you should be able to discover new assets very quickly or piece together others that you have previously saved. And Then just drop them and mix-and-match – almost like Legos – and build something that is 90% what you envisioned, without any further configuration on your part,” he says.
Over time, Playbyte plans to monetize its feed with brand advertising, for example, perhaps by allowing creators to drop sponsored assets into their games. It also wants to establish some kind of conservation model later. This could include either subscriptions or NFTs of games, but that would be further down the road.
The startup originally started as a web app in 2019, but late last year, the team scrapped that plan and revamped everything as a native iOS app with its own game engine. Wrote. That app launched on the App Store this week, after maxing out TestFlight’s cap of 10,000 users.
Currently, it is gaining traction with young teens who are active on TikTok and other collaborative games, such as Roblox, Minecraft, or Fortnite.
“These are young people who feel inspired to create their own games but are afraid of the need to learn to code or use other advanced tools, or who don’t have a computer at home that lets them access those tools, ” notes Russell.
Playbyte is backed by $4 million in pre-seed and seed funding from investors including FirstMark (Rick Heitzmann), Ludlow Ventures (Jonathon Triest and Blake Robbins), Dream Machine (former editor-in-chief of , Alexia Bonatsos), and Angels. such as Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam; Nate Mitchell, co-founder of Oculus; First Twitter’s Ashita Achuthan; and others.
The app is a free download on the App Store.