Slack and Skype are examples of common channels that allow for extremely popular B2B casual and professional communication through text , video, and speech. But if we’re talking about P2P or a social network, there’s another player in town that gamers are becoming more and more popular with: Discord.
Discord is an app for voice and text chat, primarily designed for gamers. It has 56 million active users per month (also, 250m user accounts and $2bn valuation), but there is not much talk of its origin story.
I didn’t even know what exactly it was doing until today. I knew it was just a chat app for gamers. When there are already so many chat / discussion apps, why do gamers need a separate chat app? Like the rest of us humans, can’t they use Whatsapp / Reddit / Twitter?
The response is simple. It is not just an app for chatting. Yeah, it’s a platform / gaming culture for debate, but it’s far more than that. It solves an issue which is very unique. The issue of calling your teammates by voice when playing a team-based online game (like Dota, etc). Imagine playing football with your teammates as an example of a physical sport, but you can’t speak to each other or see each other. There’s no way to communicate with each other, right? That’s just what Discord supplies, except for online games. Its voice calling from Skype but for gamers. Discord began with that issue and has grown into what it is today-a gaming culture. A fairly basic definition, but one that places the valuation of Discords at over $2 billion and 250 million user accounts.
Discord has risen explosively since its launch in 2015, with more than 14 million daily active users, which is more than Slack, which has only 10 million daily active users. Discord crossed over 250 million users in May of 2019. Discord has emerged as a response to the need for better resources to promote gamers’ communication.
As an all-in-one voice-video-text chat app, Discord was a welcome substitution for the obsolete mishmash of gaming solutions at the time, such as TeamSpeak, Curse, and even WhatsApp, which struggled to adequately appeal to the demand for video games. More recently, Discord has been breaking into the business team communication space, competing effectively against services like Slack and Skype.
When he founded Discord back in 2015, CEO Jason Citron was no stranger to success; he had already co-created and sold OpenFeint, a $100 million mobile social gaming site, in 2011. Before that, he was the founder of a game development studio called Hammer & Chisel. Jason was working on a free-to-play iPad game called Fates Forever before the official launch of Discord. He became dissatisfied with the inadequacies of existing VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solutions during development. His reaction to those inadequacies was Discord.
Jason worked on his team’s first version of Discord as an internal voice and text messaging service as they worked to complete Fates Forever ‘s development. Eventually, they agreed to continue with the growth of Discord as Fates Forever shipped and monetization attempts failed. For gamers who wanted to speak with their team during games, they promoted Discord as a free voice and text chat program. Lo and behold, their gambling has paid off and history is the rest.
Discord is the most popular text and voice chat app for gamers in the world today, and it’s still growing. Discord has partnered with huge brands like Esports, Spotify, and Microsoft to expand its reach in order to encourage such growth.
But Discord was still flourishing prior to these massive sponsorships. How did it achieve its initial impetus, and what was the catalyst for the early emergence of Discord? Slack and Discord are chat applications that are quite similar. One is only for work, the other for games. Not only are they identical items, but their history of origin is also shockingly similar. This cycle has been pursued not once but twice by the owners of both these businesses.
In terms of how it operates, Discord’s key attraction depends on these core factors:
i) It can accommodate thousands of server communications quickly without breaking.
(ii) It operates seamlessly through websites, telephones and standalone applications.
Discord is rapid. His opponents aren’t. Discord is brisk and low-latency, compared to slow, antiquated offerings like Skype. The backend of Discord was developed with scalability in mind, with Webhooks built-in, and a robust server (channel), speech, and text communication API architecture.
Discord’s distinctly bot-friendly API is another feature. In many Discord servers, bots play a huge role, and this feature has been crucial to the increase in popularity of Discord. The decision to concentrate on such a bot-friendly architecture also consciously recognised that most early users of Discord were tech-savvy, and the promise of such an integrated feature helped drive early growth of word-of – mouth. People like playing with bots, and that was acknowledged by Discord.
They do not market in conventional ways, such as purchasing commercials and templates for user acquisition. Rather, the team here is focused on listening to and delivering on the needs of the players and communities.
- Knowing and serving their intended clients-gamers
Discord knew its target audience from day one, mostly because the target audience was the people creating it. Capitalizing on this, and driving the point home, Discord has continued to acknowledge and appeal to a particular user profile: young, imaginative, tech-savvy gamers.
By building features like server customization and organization, deep bot integration, and custom emoji support, discord paved the way to an irresistible offering.
2. Zero Friction
Discord is outstanding at what it does. It’s easy to load, messages are sent instantaneously, and when you talk over voice chat, there is little-to-no latency. This seamlessness, encouraged by the tech stack of Discord, suggests that all but completely eliminates the tension between the user and the decision to take. It’s also quick to use, and with little-to-no experience, almost everyone can hop in and build their own servers.
Word-of – mouth may have got the ball rolling, but Discord acknowledged the need to up-scale their growth plan after a while. They were able to gain more exposure and fuel their development even more by collaborating with big brands like Twitch, a video game streaming service. Fortnite, one of the most played games on the planet, has also collaborated with Discord to help them boost their number of active daily users dramatically in 2017. This follows the committed strategy of Slack to expand across API integrations. For users considering signing up, the integration not only becomes a plus-point, but integrations often help the app become sticky and increase retention rates.
- Hear the voice of the community
Discord was planned to be community-focused from the outset. It was, by default, a team-based voice chat app, after all. Recognizing the simple human need to feel “part of a community,” by listening to feedback and rapidly introducing improvements, Discord was able to cultivate and develop large communities of users within its servers. Demands such as improved, more integrated bot support were rapidly rolled out, and communities felt like their input was listened to by Discord devs. Such rapid, small, gradual changes summed up a greater momentum that led to accelerated organic development. It was known as the Facebook of gaming.
Discord had a substantially superior offering to its rivals. It was, until recently, entirely secure. Rather predictably, the fact that the highly polished, free service of Discord was emerging as an alternative to inferior (often paid!) solutions meant that it attracted people instantly. And so much is possible with the free service: making surveys, conversations, voice comms, and so on.
Discord has implemented several subscription-based plans since launch, but only for extra bells and whistles (and with monetization as a platform for games). Its key characteristics are still open. The free users help to create the community and individuals to connect with the paid, paying users and subscribers: a flawless implementation of the Freemium plan.
A variety of factors can be attributed to Discord’s exponential growth, including a keen understanding of what gamers wanted (and what competition was acutely lacking), a highly community-focused approach, and the resulting ripple-effect of word-of – mouth.
Check out my related post: What is Amazon Prime’s ecosystem?