An obscure smartphone game called Party.io has become a sudden hit in China, thanks to viral videos of users playing the game on the video-sharing app TikTok.
The battle royale-style game is now the most-downloaded free game in China for Apple users, surpassing previous leaders like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
In Party.io, players control dough-like figures that try to grab each other and throw each other off the arena, which can range from floating houses to hot air balloons and a birthday cake. The last dough standing wins.
The controls are easy but bizarre. You need to tap the screen to control the direction while drawing the infinity symbol (∞) to snatch people and fling them.
Party.io currently ranks as the top iOS game in two dozens countries, including China and Ukraine, according to data tracker App Annie. In the United States, it has not even made the top 30.
In China, where it’s still only available in English, the game has been more widely known in Chinese as “the TikTok game about throwing people,” a reflection of how the video-sharing app spurred its popularity.
On Tuesday, one TikTok user shared a 15-second video of him winning a game in Party.io after getting five “kills” and garnered almost 2,000 likes.
While Party.io displays gamer IDs and their national flags as if there is an online mode, players so far can only compete against computer-controlled characters.
The game was developed by Rooster Games, a small studio based in Turkey.
Adapted from an article first published in the South China Morning Post.