On July 29, 2020, TapTap Workshop 2020 was held in Lujiazui. In his keynote speech on “TapTap’s Plans and Prospects for 2020”, Mr. Huang Yimeng, Xd’s CEO, introduced a series of major upgrades and plans for TapTap’s 2B and 2C businesses, and reiterated Xd’s dedication to fulfilling its original aspiration and improving the gaming ecosystem.
In terms of customer facing business, players will have a first-hand experience of TapTap’s updates in launch screen, brand color, product layout and other elements, which will make its design and interaction more vibrant, trendy, and fun. Communities have been part of TapTap’s important assets. According to Mr. Huang, a new module named “What’s New” (动态) will be added into the new version, which will gather and display the once-unorganized information in the form of social media feeds. This will provide players with better access to quality information from developers, KOLs and social media as well as online discussion.
As for services for businesses and developers, Mr. Huang announced that TapTap will launch “TapTap Developer Service” (TDS), which aims at reducing developers’ workload, enhancing gaming experience, improving the overall ecosystem, and benefiting both developers and players. As a platform, Xd believes that core value lies in content, so it has been focusing on game development, cutting the cost and lowering the barrier. In this way, more quality titles can be created and published via TapTap.
Mr. Huang indicated that as a critical component in the company’s strategy, TDS is designed and developed in line with the original idea behind TapTap. The launch of TDS won’t turn TapTap into a traditional platform, which usually requires developers to install its own SDK. Instead, TapTap will remain open and inclusive as always.
“I hope that with the help from developers, TDS will continue to improve, and TapTap will also grow along with all game developers.” Huang Yimeng said.
Following is a summary of Mr.Huang Yimeng’s speech.
Over the past 4 years, TapTap has grown from an obscure application to a major gaming platform with over 20 million monthly active users, and its rating has become the most important one in mobile gaming. Of course, the rating mechanism is still in want of optimization and we will continue to work on that.
I’m not saying that every game should come to TapTap. On the contrary, today I’d like to reiterate that TapTap has not been, and will never be a traditional platform. Because we firmly believe that content matter the most, and developers matter the most. Content is the premise for platform, and users are attracted to content instead of platform. So it is TapTap’s job to reach out to great content and developers, not vice versa.
So we will adhere to our original philosophy of being developer-centered and content-oriented, and not taking a cut on games’ revenues. This is neither a short-term commercial strategy, nor a publicity stunt to attract developers. Rather, it is based on our true belief, our recognition of content economy, and our respect for content creators.
Apart from this new partnership model, we want to do more for developers and the industry as a whole.
Today as we gather here for TapTap Workshop 2020, I’d like to take this great opportunity to share with you our plans for this year, and prospects for years to come.
Upgrades in Branding and Design
First and foremost, we plan to upgrade TapTap’s branding and design this year.
TapTap’s launch screen, brand color, product layout and other elements have had little adjustment since its inception. This year, along with a series of general optimizations to our products, we will redesign TapTap’s style and interaction, making it more vibrant, trendy, and fun.
The New “What’s New” Module
As I’ve mentioned, design upgrades and product upgrades will be in parallel, the latter of which will focus on TapTap community. The most important feature is the “What’s New” module, which has been added to the latest versions for testing.
Information such as reviews, videos, announcements, posts and discussion used to sit in different sections in an unorganized way. In the new version, they will be collected and presented in the “What’s New” module in the form of social media feeds.
With “What’s New”, we want to offer players three sources of information.
At TapTap, games can easily get hundreds of thousands of or even millions of pre-registrations. And “What’s New” will bring users even closer to developers. After users pre-register or subscribe to a game, he or she will receive notification in TapTap when the developer posts message, article, or video on TapTap. Users can repost the content, or interact and discuss with the developer directly.
Second, active players and KOLs.
Since TapTap was founded four years ago, it has attracted many veteran gamers, reviewers, playtesters and gaming content creators. Their presence used to be dispersive, only to be found in comment, video or forum of an individual game. With “What’s New”, they will play a bigger role, showing the community more directly what they play, follow, and recommend. For these content creators, “What’s New” builds a new community around them, helping them attract more followers and receive more positive feedback.
Third, the user’s friends and real social connection.
But how does TapTap create such connection between users?
The feature of adding new friend and following each other have been around for a while on TapTap, but it’s still a long way from creating actual bonding. This is a universal difficulty facing almost all products when it comes to social features, and Tencent is the only exception. The main reason behind is, for the majority of apps other than communication apps, adding friends and interacting with them is not a necessity for users.
Yet gaming apps are another exception.
We become friends on Steam as we play PUBG together. We become friends on PSN as we play Monster Hunter together. We become friends on NSO as we play Animal Crossing together. Even if they are not social networks strictly speaking, we form a relationship via these platforms.
So we firmly believe that real friendships between players won’t be monopolized by a few chat apps. Users bring their social relationships with them. The success of a product’s social features depends on the demand for social interactions created by the product itself. Games, especially games that require social interaction, are the main vehicle for such demand.
Therefore, we will enhance TapTap’s social features, starting with our own games.
Integration of Xd Games Account and TapTap Account
So far, we have been operating Sausage Man, and are about to publish Human: Fall Flat and Terraria. These are the games that have strong demand for social interaction with high DAU. We plan to fully connect Sausage Man’s account and social system with TapTap’s account system, and integrate Xd’s game accounts into TapTap’s account system in the future.
Of course, the integration of Sausage Man and TapTap will be more than just combining two contact lists. TapTap will introduce a series of new features, such as in-game social circle and community services.
In fact, we have introduced and tested in-game forums in some of the titles. But this time, with the integration of TapTap’s community and the games account, the user experience will be completely new and different.
Usually, the only way to interact with in-game friends is to create a team and play together, but if users don’t log on at the same time, the connection is gone. With in-game social circle, we hope to create more interaction even when users are offline. Highlights and best plays, interesting stories and plots, comments and complaints about the updates can all be shared through this new feature. Moreover, just as they do in social media apps used every day, users can get to know each other via posts first.
This in-game social circle system and TapTap’s community will be fully connected, with data shared between them. The only difference is that in-game players will only see information related to the particular game.
So in the social circle, players will have real-time updates not only from their friends who play the same game, but also from the game’s developer, KOLs and top gamers. Official announcements, previews, daily events, best moments and tips and tricks will all be available here.
Terraria and Human: Fall Flat, which will be published very soon, will go one step further than Sausage Man. Players will be able to log in directly with their TapTap account, use their TapTap’s contact list in the game, and post content in in-game social circle. What’s more, the game’s online services will be provided through TapTap, including matching, creating a new team, and cloud save.
It is also noteworthy that all these services are connected to TapTap, so all the information generated within the game, be it likes and feedback in the social circle, group invites, official announcements or new releases, will be passed on to players outside of the game through TapTap.
After we integrate our in-house games with TapTap successfully, all the features mentioned above will be available for all developers.
TapTap Developer Services
Our users’ connections and friendships are not our private assets, as they also belong to the players and the games. With consent from our users, other developers can enjoy the same access to user information as we do. The integration of our own games and TapTap may not be enough, but we will be open and inclusive, so that we can expand the social circle and community little by little, which hopefully will benefit all developers and players eventually.
That’s why we’re going to consolidate the services specially designed for developers into a formal product named TDS, which stands for TapTap Developer Services.
In addition to the features mentioned above, TDS also includes data analysis service that is heavily reliant on TapTap. Previously we launched a standalone statistical analysis service, TapDB, and this year we plan to fully integrate TapDB into TapTap’s Developer Center. TapDB will become the Center’s core service, with which developers will have full access to data in user behavior and profiling on condition that user privacy is protected.
Developers can also directly call TapTap account login service in TDS to invite different types of targeted users to the game’s beta test, and to analyze the feedback of different user groups using backend data analysis.
Thanks to the trust and support of miHoYo, we experimented with this new strategy for the first time in the first half of this year on Genshin Impact. Traditionally, activation code is distributed for the beta test. But we adopted the new method and picked around 10,000 TapTap users with different characteristics. On the day of the test, these users were able to see the recommendation of Genshin Impact directly on their TapTap home page, and were eligible to download the game and use their TapTap account to log into Genshin Impact for the beta test.
For miHoYo, this test with TapTap gave them a clearer picture of the actual test data from each type of players. The analysis and conclusion based on masked user data from TapTap is more accurate than those coming out of the traditional questionnaire-based method.
Tag-based user profiling is not uncommon for data analysis, and major players within the industry, like Tencent, have been using similar methods for game testing and data analysis for a long time. But what makes TapTap different is that our services will be completely accessible for all TapTap developers, as we want to help them create better titles, and to provide better service for players.
These are just some of the many features we have in mind for TDS. Some of them have been subject to preliminary tests while others are being embedded into our internal projects. According to our plan, all these features will be launched for free in the second half of the year for all developers.
In the days to come, TDS will become even more powerful. Our first goal is based on one simple principle: to expand the coverage of our public services from Xd to other developers and even the entire game industry. Currently, services such as text and voice chat, multilingual translation, customer service, anti-cheat, and anti-hack are only accessible for Xd’s internal platform and middle office. In the future, these features will be available for all.
The second direction is to deeply integrate TapTap’s features with games, i.e game’s development and operation. For example, we are now enhancing various social features, adding the social circle. In the future we will work on TapTap’s messaging function, achievement system, leaderboards, game videos, updates, accelerator, etc, which will be compatible with games, serving both developers and players.
So why do we develop TDS, putting so much effort into developing services for third party developers? The answer is actually quite simple.
Firstly, this will avoid repetitive development in multiple projects and reduce our own costs, so as a game company, we have to do it anyway. More importantly, we don’t see strong capabilities in development as our own competitive edge, and we don’t see these services as exclusive. On the contrary, we believe that when these services are used by more in the future, they will have a bigger impact. That’s why we are more than happy to invest more resources into their development.
Secondly, as I mentioned before, we as a platform believe that core value lies in content. So apart from developing in-house games, we are also accumulating content and designing services, so as to give other developers a hand in the near future. When we take care of the drudgery, developers can focus on content creation, which is the core of the development process. We are now trying our best to reduce the cost and difficulty of creating games so that more quality titles can be offered to players on TapTap.
These services will make developers’ job easier, improve players’ gaming experience, and eventually help TapTap gather more products and retain more players. This will be a win-win situation for all, creating long-term value for developers, players and ourselves. Therefore, we will remain committed to this cause till the day our goals are fulfilled.
Since today’s event is a workshop for developers, TDS is the most important item on the agenda that I want to talk about. Of course, developing TDS is no easy task, and we’ve just set out. Yet TDS stands for our ambitious goal of connecting all developers and players around the world. It is this ultimate goal that distinguishes us from our counterparts. We are investing in TDS not because we have excessive resources and capacity, or because we want to polish our brand image. TDS is more than just a new product or a new business. It is a crucial part of our long-term strategy, an important step on our journey towards our ultimate goal. We are certain that it will not only improve the industrial ecosystem, but also create concrete benefit for developers and gamers. It will also allow us to take on a bigger role and make more contribution in the industry.
Realizing that ultimate goal may take 5 to 10 years, and setbacks and difficulties are inevitable along the way. I always tell our own game teams that the launch of a game should not be seen as a moment of make or break, or a matter of life and death. The same goes for all of TapTap’s future features and services. They should be viewed as the process instead of the outcome. Once we are determined about our goals and approach, we should work incessantly to improve those features and services, putting ourselves into fellow developers’ and players’ shoes and listening to their opinions with modesty. Ambitious in words and down-to-earth in actions, we will remain dedicated to our original aspiration, working hard for a more enabling gaming ecosystem.
Additionally, rest assured that TapTap will remain open and inclusive after the launch of TDS, and unlike conventional platforms, we won’t compel developers to install our SDK, or impose recommendation ranking drop if they choose not to use our TDS. This are the last things we will do. The one and only goal for the TDS team is to get the product and the service right, and to bring substantial benefit to developers. We want to attract developers to TDS due to its strong performance, the cost it helps save, and the higher efficiency it offers, rather than taking advantage of our platform status, bullying developers into using an useless services, and burdening them with extra development costs.
So today I’m asking all developers for a favor. But I’m not simply asking you to use TDS. We attach more importance to your requests and suggestions, which will help TDS improve and advance. We really look forward to seeing TapTap’s growth along with all game developers in a sustainable way.
In fact, TDS is still far from being ready for release, and we are not announcing its launch today. A lot of work are still in progress, such as those related to official homepage, documentation and access process. I just want to take this precious opportunity to share our plans on TapTap’s future with our partners and friends, and hopefully you can provide us with feedback and advice. In order to further strengthen the interaction and communication with all developers, we have created a special “TapTap Developer Services” account on TapTap, where all updates will be posted in the first time. All developers registered on TapTap will follow this account automatically, and feel free to share with us your thoughts via TapTap or other channels anytime.