An unexpected perk of quitting Twitter.
The panel investigating the attack on the Capitol is demanding information from Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter.
The social media site had been blocked after it deleted a post from President Muhammadu Buhari about secessionist groups that was widely seen as threatening.
Here’s what sports marketers are doing to win back a lost generation and save the future of fandom.
We’ve ceded too much control over our speech to Big Tech.
Online chatter about holding rallies has grown, but sizable real-world gatherings on Thursday are unlikely to materialize.
Twitter permanently suspended the personal account of Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) yesterday, though her professional account remains active.
Greene has been an outspoken opponent of COVID-19 vaccines, routinely posting disinformation about the disease, the vaccines, and other health-related information. Her fifth strike on Twitter (yes, her fifth) came after she posted false claims about vaccine safety based on unverified raw data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, also known as VAERS.
“We’ve been clear that, per our strike system for this policy, we will permanently suspend accounts for repeated violations of the policy,” Katie Rosborough, a Twitter spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Dick Costolo discusses the unique difficulties of heading the social media platform.
The social media service said the Republican congresswoman had violated its policy on coronavirus misinformation.
The company showed that people would flock to an audio-only social media app. Can it fend off the imitators?
The company showed that people would flock to an audio-only social media app. Can it fend off the imitators?
Try as we might, no one can really imagine what comes next.
Twitter’s new boss needs to boost the company’s value, or someone else will.
Twitter’s new leadership faces some tough choices.
Jack Dorsey, who is stepping down after six years as Twitter’s chief executive, is one of the tech leaders who seem to have grown tired of managing their empires.
A longtime Twitter insider and a confidant of co-founder Jack Dorsey, Mr. Agrawal takes over as the social media company confronts various challenges.
The social media pioneer, whose name has become synonymous with the company, was replaced by Twitter’s chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal.
Dissecting the visual aspects of the violent video circulated by Representative Paul Gosar.
Jack Dorsey announced today that he’s stepping down as CEO of Twitter, the social network he helped found in 2006. The change is effective immediately.
Dorsey did not say what spurred the sudden move, though in his resignation letter, which he also shared on Twitter, he said, “There has been a lot of talk about the importance of a company being ‘founder-led.’ Ultimately, I believe that’s severely limiting and a single point of failure. I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders.”
not sure anyone has heard but,
I resigned from Twitter pic.twitter.com/G5tUkSSxkl
— jack (@jack) November 29, 2021
Parag Agrawal, the company’s chief technical officer, has been named the new CEO. “The board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed Parag,” Dorsey wrote. “He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs.”
The social media pioneer, whose name has become synonymous with Twitter, is also the chief executive of another company, Square.
A new Twitter account has amassed a following by sharing highly filtered versions of well-known images.
Josiah Johnson can find humor in almost any sports or pop culture moment, earning him fans from the N.B.A. to Hollywood.
This is a good time to think more broadly about Big Tech’s business models.
The company is pushing to find new sources of revenue.
His Trump-flattering campaign for the Senate is an elegy for decency.
The former president will attempt to build his own version of the social media giant.
Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram try to monitor for content related to the problem, but it is not always clear what to do about it.
Quietly built over two years, the Kremlin’s censorship infrastructure gives it sweeping power to block sites. Many fear a new age of digital isolation.
A 7-year-old told her mother that she resisted a New Jersey teacher’s attempt to pull off her Muslim head covering. It spiraled from there.
A merger with a so-called blank check company is poised to give the former president access to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Donald Trump is launching a social media platform called TRUTH Social, which will go public via a merger with a blank-check company, as the former US president seeks to capitalize on his popularity among a large chunk of Republicans.
The move comes after months of speculation about whether Trump would launch a media company to compete with Twitter and Facebook and set the stage for another presidential run in 2024.
Trump, who used Twitter extensively during his 2016 campaign and four years in office, was banned from the platform, along with Facebook, YouTube, and other big social media networks in the wake of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
A merger could give the former president access to nearly $300 million in cash — and perhaps a new platform.
Peter Thiel, decency and the supposed “pro-wrestlization” of tweeting.
With a deft plan, @BritneyLawArmy kept everyone outside the courtroom abreast of developments in a crucial moment in the singer’s conservatorship.
Despite having one of the world’s toughest laws against online hate speech and harassment, Germany has struggled to contain toxic content ahead of its Sept. 26 election.
A new report from Pew Research finds that around a third of U.S. adults continue to get their news regularly from Facebook, though the exact percentage has slipped from 36% in 2020 to 31% in 2021. This drop reflects an overall slight decline in the number of Americans who say they get their news from any social media platform — a percentage that also fell by 5 percentage points year-over-year, going from 53% in 2020 to a little under 48%, Pew’s study found.
By definition, “regularly” here means the survey respondents said they get their news either “often” or “sometimes,” as opposed to “rarely,” “never,” or “don’t get digital news.”
The change comes at a time when tech companies have come under heavy scrutiny for allowing misinformation to spread across their platforms, Pew notes. That criticism has ramped up over the course of the pandemic, leading to vaccine hesitancy and refusal, which in turn has led to worsened health outcomes for many Americans who consumed the misleading information.
Despite these issues, the percentage of Americans who regularly get their news from various social media sites hasn’t changed too much over the past year, demonstrating how much a part of people’s daily news habits these sites have become.
In addition to the one-third of U.S. adults who regularly get their news on Facebook, 22% say they regularly get news on YouTube. Twitter and Instagram are regular news sources for 13% and 11% of Americans, respectively.
However, many of the sites have seen small declines as a regular source of news among their own users, says Pew. This is a different measurement compared with the much smaller percentage of U.S. adults who use the sites for news, as it speaks to how the sites’ own user bases may perceive them. In a way, it’s a measurement of the shifting news consumption behaviors of the often younger social media user, more specifically.
Today, 55% of Twitter users regularly get news from its platform, compared with 59% last year. Meanwhile, Reddit users’ use of the site for news dropped from 42% to 39% in 2021. YouTube fell from 32% to 30%, and Snapchat fell from 19% to 16%. Instagram is roughly the same, at 28% in 2020 to 27% in 2021.
Only one social media platform grew as a news source during this time: TikTok.
In 2020, 22% of the short-form video platform’s users said they regularly got their news there, compared with an increased 29% in 2021.
Overall, though, most of these sites have very little traction with the wider adult population in the U.S. Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans regularly get their news from Reddit (7%), TikTok (6%), LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), WhatsApp (3%) or Twitch (1%).
There are demographic differences between who uses which sites, as well.
White adults tend to turn to Facebook and Reddit for news (60% and 54%, respectively). Black and Hispanic adults make up significant proportions of the regular news consumers on Instagram (20% and 33%, respectively.) Younger adults tend to turn to Snapchat and TikTok, while the majority of news consumers on LinkedIn have four-year college degrees.
Of course, Pew’s latest survey, conducted from July 26 to Aug. 8, 2021, is based on self-reported data. That means people’s answers are based on how the users perceive their own usage of these various sites for newsgathering. This can produce different results compared with real-world measurements of how often users visited the sites to read news. Some users may underestimate their usage and others may overestimate it.
People may also not fully understand the ramifications of reading news on social media, where headlines and posts are often molded into inflammatory clickbait in order to entice engagement in the form of reactions and comments. This, in turn, may encourage strong reactions — but not necessarily from those worth listening to. In recent Pew studies, it found that social media news consumers tended to be less knowledgeable about the facts on key news topics, like elections or Covid-19. And social media consumers were more frequently exposed to fringe conspiracies (which is pretty apparent to anyone reading the comments!)
For the current study, the full sample size was 11,178 respondents, and the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.
Twitter’s creator platform Super Follows is off to an inauspicious start, having contributed to somewhere around $6,000 in U.S. iOS revenue in the first two weeks the feature has been live, according to app intelligence data provided by Sensor Tower. And it’s made only around $600 or so in Canada. A small portion of that revenue may be attributed to Ticketed Spaces, Twitter’s other in-app purchase offered in the U.S. — but there’s no way for this portion to be calculated by an outside firm.
Twitter first announced its plans to launch Super Follows during its Analyst Day event in February, where the company detailed many of its upcoming initiatives to generate new revenue streams.
Today, Twitter’s business is highly dependant on advertising, and Super Follows is one of the few ways it’s aiming to diversify. The company is also now offering a way for creators to charge for access to their live events with Ticketed Spaces and, outside the U.S., Twitter has begun testing a premium product for power users called Twitter Blue.
But Super Follows, which targets creators, is the effort with the most potential appeal to mainstream users.
It’s also one that is working to capitalize on the growing creator economy, where content creators build a following, then generate revenue directly through subscriptions — decreasing their own dependence on ads or brand deals, as a result. The platforms they use for this business skim a little off the top to help them fund the development of the creator tools. (In Twitter’s case, it’s taking only a 3% cut.)
The feature would seem to make sense for Twitter, a platform that already allows high-profile figures and regular folks to hobnob in the same timeline and have conversations. Super Follows ups that access by letting fans get even closer to their favorite creators — whether those are musicians, artists, comedians, influencers, writers, gamers, or other experts, for example. These creators can set a monthly subscription price of $2.99, $4.99, or $9.99 to provide fans with access to bonus, “behind-the-scenes” content of their choosing. These generally come in the form of extra tweets, Q&As, other interactions with subscribers.
At launch, Twitter opened up Super Follows to a handful of creators, including the beauty and skincare-focused account @MakeupforWOC; astrology account @TarotByBronx; sports-focused @KingJosiah54; writer @myeshachou; internet personality and podcaster @MichaelaOkla; spiritual healer @kemimarie; music charts tweeter @chartdata; Twitch streamers @FaZeMew, @VelvetIsCake, @MackWood1, @GabeJRuiz, and @Saulsrevenge; YouTubers @DoubleH_YT, @LxckTV, and @PowerGotNow; and crypto traders @itsALLrisky and @moon_shine15; among others. Twitter says there are fewer than 100 creators in total who have access to Super Follows.
While access on the creation side is limited, the ability to subscribe to creators is not. Any Twitter iOS user in the U.S. or Canada can “Super Follow” any number of the supported creator accounts. In the U.S., Twitter has 169 million average monetizable daily active users as of Q2 2021. Of course, only some subset of those will be iOS users.
Still, Twitter could easily count millions upon millions of “potential” customers for its Super Follow platform at launch. Its current revenue indicates that, possibly, only thousands of consumers have done so, given many of the top in-app purchases are for creators offering content at lower price points.
Sensor Tower notes the $6,000 in U.S. consumer spending on iOS was calculated during the first two weeks of September (Sept. 1-14). Before this period, U.S. iOS users spent only $100 from August 25 through 31 — a figure that would indicate user spending on Ticketed Spaces during that time. In other words, the contribution of Tickets Spaces revenue to this total of $6,000 in iOS consumer spending is likely quite small.
In Canada, the other market where Super Follow is now available to subscribers, Twitter’s iOS in-app purchase revenue from September 1 through September 14 was a negligible $600. (This would also include Twitter Blue subscription revenue, which is being tested in Canada and Australia.)
Worldwide, Twitter users on iOS spent $9,000 during that same time, which would include other Ticketed Spaces revenues and tests of its premium service, Twitter Blue. (Twitter’s Tip Jar, a way to pay creators directly, does not work through in-app purchases).
Unlike other Twitter products that developed by watching what users were already doing anyway — like using hashtags or retweeting content — many of Twitter’s newer features are attempts at redefining the use cases for its platform. In a massive rush of product pushes, Twitter has recently launched tools for not just for creators, but also for e-commerce, organizing reading materials, subscribing to newsletters, socializing in communities, chatting through audio, fact-checking content, keeping up with trends, conversing more privately, and more.
Twitter’s position on the slower start to Super Follows is that it’s still too early to make any determinations. While that’s fair, it’s also worth tracking adoption to see if the new product had seen any rapid, of-the-gate traction.
“This is just the start for Super Follows,” a Twitter spokesperson said, reached for comment about Sensor Tower’s figures. “Our main goal is focused on ensuring creators are set up for success and so we’re working closely with a small group of creators in this first iteration to ensure they have the best experience using Super Follows before we roll out more widely.”
The spokesperson also noted Twitter Super Follows had been set up to help creators make more money as it scales.
“With Super Follows, people are eligible to earn up to 97% of revenue after in-app purchase fees until they make $50,000 in lifetime earnings. After $50,000 in lifetime earnings, they can earn up to 80% of revenue after in-app purchase fees,” they said.
New rulings by the Federal Election Commission protect the flexibility of major social media companies to control political content shared on their platforms.
Litecoin and other digital currencies jumped by as much as 30 percent after the announcement, which was republished as legitimate by media companies.
The commission’s ruling provides further flexibility to social media giants to control what is shared on their platforms regarding federal elections.
Twitter today is introducing a new feature that will allow accounts to self-identify as bots by adding a label to their profile. This feature is designed to help people better differentiate between automated accounts — like bots that retweet the news, public service announcements, or other updates — from those operated by humans. It’s not, however, designed to help users identify the “bad bots” which are those that pose as people, often to spread misinformation or spam.
The company has been contemplating labeling bots for years.
In 2018, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was asked during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing whether he believed users had a “right to know” if they were speaking to a bot or a human on Twitter’s platform. He agreed that Twitter should add more context to tweets and was considering identifying bots, to the extent that it could. However, Dorsey also pointed out it would be more difficult to identify bots that were using scripting to give the appearance of being a human, compared with those that were leveraging Twitter’s API.
Last year, the company finally solidified those plans, saying it would later introduce new features that would allow users to be able to distinguish between human-run accounts and those that were automated. When Twitter launched its account verification system in May, it reminded users that it would soon offer other ways to identify different types of accounts beyond the long-coveted blue badge — such as labels for bots.
Today, Twitter says its new “Automated Account” label that identifies “good bots” will be made available to over 500 Developer Accounts. This group will test the feature and provide feedback before it’s opened up more broadly to all Twitter developers. As it’s still a test for the time being, the label won’t be required.
However, when Twitter updated its Developer Policy last year, it did ask developers to indicate in their account profile or bio whether the account was a bot, what the account is, and who’s behind it. These account labels would allow developers an easier way to comply with that policy rather than having to handwrite this information in their bio.
Twitter tells TechCrunch that based on what it learns during this experiment, it may decide to make adopting the label a requirement for all developers who run automated accounts in the future, once it becomes broadly available.
To be clear, Twitter doesn’t have any problem with those who run good bots, as it understands how automation can allow accounts to update people with helpful, relevant, or, sometimes, just fun information. The company even celebrated a few of its favorite bots when announcing today’s developer news, including the public service account @earthquakesSF; a bot offering COVID-19 updates, @vax_progress; a bot that offers an ongoing breakdown of the last 100 bills introduced in Congress, @last100bills; an accessibility-focused bot, @AltTxtReminder; and others that just add value in their own way, like @met_drawings, which shares public domain works from The Met’s Drawings & Prints department, or the goofy @EmojiMashupBot, among others.
All these will be a part of the initial test group.
Twitter is also less concerned with how consumers may use automation to update their own accounts, perhaps by using third-party tools like IFTTT to post links or other content.
“You are ultimately responsible for the actions taken with your account, or by applications associated with your account,” Twitter’s policy advises Twitter users. “Before authorizing a third-party application to access or use your account, make sure you’ve thoroughly investigated the application and understand what it will do.” It also adds that Twitter users that adopt automation will still need to adhere to Twitter’s guidelines.
The company has been on a tear lately in terms of rolling out new features. Just this week, it has launched Communities, tests of emoji reactions, support for full-width photos and videos, and a way to “soft block” followers, among other things.
Twitter has not said how long the test would run before the Automated Account labels are rolled out more broadly.
Starting today, Twitter is testing Tweet Reactions in Turkey for a limited time. Users in the region will be able to react to tweets using , , , , in addition to . But if you can’t remember the chaos that ensued when the heart react replaced the favorite star in 2015… brace yourself.
Last year, Twitter added emoji reactions to DMs, but this isn’t the same set of emojis. This announcement comes after Twitter surveyed users in March about how they’d react (ha) if the platform were to adopt a Facebook-like way to engage with tweets, and what emojis they’d want to communicate with. In the survey, some of the proposed emoji sets included “agree” or “disagree” buttons, a dislike button, or Reddit-like upvotes and downvotes. But Twitter found from its survey that users were concerned about getting negative emoji feedback.
“Although ‘frustration’ and ‘anger’ are also common emotions people feel while reading Tweets, and some people want to express disagreement with Tweets, we’re not incorporating these as emoji reactions right now,” Twitter said in a press release. “Our goal is always to support healthy public conversation and we want to see how our current set of emoji will impact conversations.”
Unlike Facebook, which added reactions in 2015, Twitter isn’t testing an “angry” reaction, which was proposed in its survey. This is likely due to users’ hesitancy around negative responses, but still — if you’ve never been on the receiving end of an ill-intended “ha ha” react… Good for you! And it’s not as though arguments don’t happen on Twitter without emoji reactions.
Twitter says that it wants emoji reactions to give people an easier way to show how they feel, which would — in a perfect world — lead to improved expression and participation in public conversation.
This test is only the latest feature that Twitter has tinkered with in the last week. You may also notice interest-based communities, full-width photos and videos, and new safety features cropping up on your feed. With this particular experiment, Twitter said that it will continue to consider community feedback as it tests additional emoji reactions. Based on user responses, it may expand the test’s availability to other regions.
Users in Turkey can experiment with this feature on iOS, Android, and web, which will roll out across the country in the coming days.
Twitter is a useful place for following breaking news and keeping up with what the people you’re already interested in are doing, but its relative dearth of discovery features and a lack of organized community spaces make it pretty hard to connect with anyone you aren’t actively seeking out.
The company is thinking about changing that. Twitter is on a tear with new features lately and its latest experiment, called Communities, is designed to make it easier to connect around shared interests. Users will be able to join these new social hubs and tweet directly to other people with shared interests rather than their regular group of followers. Those tweets will still be public, but replies will be limited to other community members.
Communities will be user-generated, though Twitter says that will be “limited,” for now, so most people will have to wait a few months before starting their own groups. The earliest Communities will center around popular and generally benign topics on Twitter including “dogs, weather, sneakers, skincare, and astrology.” Twitter’s example images also include cryptocurrency, plants and Black women photographers.
The test begins Wednesday and will show up in a dedicated spot at the bottom of the iOS app or in the side menu on Twitter.com. Twitter says that Android users will be able to read Community tweets too, though “more functionality” is on the way soon — presumably a dedicated app tab and the ability to join and participate in the new groups.
Communities will be created and maintained by designated moderators, who will have the ability to invite other users to the group via DM and remove content posted within the group. Initially invites will be the only way into a Community, but it sounds like Twitter has some grand plans for discovery features that make it easier for people to find places they might want to hang out.
“Some conversations aren’t for everyone, just the people who want to talk about the thing you want to talk about,” Twitter Staff Product Manager David Regan wrote in a blog post announcing the feature. “… We want to continue to support public conversation and help people find Communities that match their interests, while also creating a more intimate space for conversation.”
With any user-driven community space on social media — particularly one where algorithmic discovery factors in — moderation is the big concern. Twitter says that anyone will be able to read, report and quote content posted in a Community, so you don’t have to be a member of a community to flag harmful content like you would in a private Facebook group. Twitter says that it is working on “new reporting flows, and bespoke enforcement actions” to proactively identify problem Communities.
The introduction of Communities pairs well with Twitter’s recent efforts to court creator communities. The company rolled out Super Follows, its paid subscription tool, earlier this month and also recently invited some users to sell tickets for audio rooms with Ticketed Spaces. It’s also testing one-time payments with a feature called Tip Jar that’s currently only available for a subset of accounts.
Communities are a pretty big departure for Twitter, which is obviously in the throes of reimagining the platform as a more dynamic place for community building. By carving out substantial space for subcommunities on Twitter, the company seems to be inching in the direction of a platform like Discord or Reddit, where everything revolves around self-moderating interest-based communities. Those platforms grapple with their own moderation headaches, but specific, interest-driven communities invite users to go deep in a way that makes interactions on Twitter look shallow by comparison.
The introduction of Communities is an interesting direction for a prominent social network that’s remained largely unchanged for more than a decade at this point. If the test sticks, Communities could build connective tissue between users and make the social network generally a more dynamic place to hang out — but that’s only possible if Twitter can strike the right balance between encouraging its newly imagined subcommunities to grow and keeping them safe.
Twitter announced yesterday that it’s testing a feature on the web that makes it possible to remove followers without blocking them. Sometimes, users want to stop a follower from seeing their tweets without outright blocking them — if that follower were to navigate directly to their page, it’d be clear that they had been blocked, which can pose safety risks. Now, some Twitter users with access to this test can remove a follower by navigating to their profile and clicking to view their list of followers. Then, they can click on a three dot icon next to the follow button and select “remove this follower” from the drop-down menu. Not all users currently have this functionality.
Previously, users had maneuvered this “soft block” themselves — if you block a user, then unblock them, it removes them from your followers list. The current test only allows you to remove followers from your own follower list, so if you’re a particularly popular tweeter, it could be difficult to scroll through thousands of names to find the one person you’re looking for. But according to app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Twitter has also been working on the ability to remove a follower from their profile, not just your own followers list.
The platform is showing a continued investment in user experience updates focused on web safety. Last week, it revealed a suite of privacy tools that it’s working on, which included the ability to remove followers. The platform also proposed the potential to archive tweets after 30, 60, or 90 days, hiding liked tweets, and leaving conversations. While third-party programs like Semiphemeral have long made it possible to automatically old tweets and unlike messages, having these features built into the app itself could make it easier for users to have greater control over their digital presence without sharing their data with outside developers.
Twitter is exploring ways to build a more visually immersive experience with its latest test, which brings edge-to-edge tweets to the app on iOS.
Full-width images and videos track for the direction the company has shown some interest in going lately. Twitter introduced bigger images with improved cropping controls for its pair of mobile apps earlier this year, making plenty of photographers and other visual artists happy that the social network was suddenly a much friendlier platform for sharing their work.
In the current test, tweets fill the full frame from left to right instead of being offset by a pretty large margin on the left. The changes result in much larger images and videos that look better in the feed and a cleaner, more modern design that doesn’t unnecessarily squish tweets to the right of users’ profile pictures.
In testing the feature, Twitter says that it wants to encourage users to have conversations across photos and videos, rather than focusing solely on text like the platform traditionally has. While the result looks like a win to us, any change to Twitter’s design is likely to inspire a vocal subset of users to hate-tweet about it for a day or so before forgetting the changes altogether.
From co-stars of “The Wire” to musicians and authors, many took to social media on Monday to share their thoughts about the actor.
To protest Texas’ new abortion law, activists said, they pranked a website set up by the state’s largest anti-abortion group.
A startup called Playbyte wants to become the TikTok for games. The company’s newly launched iOS app offers tools that allow users to make and share simple games on their phone, as well as a vertically scrollable, fullscreen feed where you can play the games created by others. Also like TikTok, the feed becomes more personalized over time to serve up more of the kinds of games you like to play.
While typically, game creation involves some aspect of coding, Playbyte’s games are created using simple building blocks, emoji and even images from your Camera Roll on your iPhone. The idea is to make building games just another form of self-expression, rather than some introductory, educational experience that’s 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 web frameworks, which lets users create games that can be quickly loaded and played even on slow connections and older devices. After you play a game, you can like and comment using buttons on the right-side of the screen, which also greatly resembles the TikTok look-and-feel. Over time, Playbyte’s feed shows you more of the games you enjoyed as the app leverages its understanding of in-game imagery, tags and descriptions, and other engagement analytics to serve up more games it believes you’ll find compelling.
At launch, users have already made a variety of games using Playbyte’s tools — including simulators, tower defense games, combat challenges, obbys, murder mystery games, and more.
According to Playbyte founder and CEO Kyle Russell — previously of 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 our minds for what is required to build a new social media platform,” he says.
What Twitter did for text, Instagram did for photos and TikTok did for video was to combine a constraint with a personalized feed, Russell explains. “Typically. [they started] with a focus on making these experiences really brief…So a short, constrained format and dedicated tools that set you up for success to work within that constrained format,” he adds.
Similarly, Playbyte games have their own set of limitations. In addition to their simplistic 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. That means if someone who has more expertise makes a game asset using custom logic or which pieced together multiple components, the rest of the user base can benefit from that work.
“Basically, we want to make it really easy for people who aren’t as ambitious to still feel like productive, creative game makers,” says Russell. “The key to that is going to be if you have an idea — like an image of a game in your mind — you should be able to very quickly search for new assets or piece together other ones you’ve previously saved. And then just drop them in and mix-and-match — almost like Legos — and construct something that’s 90% of what you imagined, without any further configuration on your part,” he says.
In time, Playbyte plans to monetize its feed with brand advertising, perhaps by allowing creators to drop sponsored assets into their games, for instance. It also wants to establish some sort of patronage model at a later point. This could involve either subscriptions or even NFTs of the games, but this would be further down the road.
The startup had originally began as a web app in 2019, but at the end of last year, the team scrapped that plan and rewrote everything as a native iOS app with its own game engine. That app launched on the App Store this week, after previously maxing out TestFlight’s cap of 10,000 users.
Currently, it’s finding traction with younger teenagers who are active on TikTok and other collaborative games, like Roblox, Minecraft, or Fortnite.
“These are young people who feel inspired to build their own games but have been intimidated by the need to learn to code or use other advanced tools, or who simply don’t have a computer at home that would let 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 at TechCrunch, Alexia Bonatsos), and angels such as Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase; Nate Mitchell, co-founder of Oculus; Ashita Achuthan, previously of Twitter; and others.
The app is a free download on the App Store.
The 18-year-old behind the viral Twitter account @CraigWeekend has offered people a routine reminder to take a load off.
The 18-year-old behind the viral Twitter account @CraigWeekend has offered people a routine reminder to take a load off.