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What Is Discord, and Is It Only for Gamers?


    Discord Text and logo on Discord's unique blurple background. Header.

    Discord offers free VoIP, text, and video chat servers, along with unique features for gamers like Twitch integration. It’s also a must-have for doing business in the gaming industry, and it might give other enterprises a unique edge in customer communications.

    Discord Offers Community-Driven Communications

    Discord is a free communications app, most similar to popular apps like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and TeamSpeak. It features user-friendly text, voice, and video chat in public or private servers that anyone can quickly set up for free.

    Discord User Interface

    Discord has a similar user interface to Slack and Microsoft Teams, and its servers function similarly to Slack and Teams servers. Yet, Discord’s servers have developed more through user-driven activity, as Reddit has with its subreddits. There’s a Discord server for just about everything.

    Like Reddit, Discord is an online community platform. It’s being used for everything from large corporate platforms and specialized learning hubs, to extremist recruitment and adult content. The official Parent’s Guide to Discord provides useful resources for understanding how these communities function and how you can control the content that flows in and out of your Discord.

    The Discord Community Guidelines convey the developer’s intentions of bringing groups of gamers together and explicitly ban harassment, predatory behavior, and harmful content. It also provides you with avenues for getting more help on issues like bullying, suicide, and other issues relevant to today’s digital communities. But like any online tool, that doesn’t necessarily prevent savvy teens from undoing settings or stop evildoers from leveraging social media to spread hate and abuse.

    Discord Is for Everyone, Not Just Gamers

    Discord is listed in most app stores as “Chat for Gamers,” and its integration with gaming platforms like Steam and Twitch has made it extremely popular with 56 million gamers every month. The ubiquitous nature of Microsoft’s Skype (and Skype for Business) has made it a common choice for voice, video, and text among average Windows users.

    Microsoft Teams, which will eventually replace Skype for Business, features a high level of integration with other Microsoft apps, especially SharePoint, which has made it a leader in the business environment. Slack is the most common alternative because it has gone about consuming other popular workplace communicators like Hipchat.

    TeamSpeak has always been a major competitor due to its obsessive focus on sound quality, client security, and server reliability. Discord surpassed most of the currently dominant tools used for gaming, including a good amount of TeamSpeak’s market share.

    TeamSpeak Beta

    Discord features more diverse integrations and services, a more friendly user interface, and free servers, although the new TeamSpeak could close that gap as it adopts and enhances many of the same features that have allowed Discord to dominate. Other tools like Mumble and Ventrilo are still around, though only in small niches.

    Discord versus Slack

    In reality, Discord shares most of the features and integrations that its competitors do. Discord and Slack, shown above on the left and right, respectively, share almost identical interfaces. This means the choice of which app to use is mostly decided by the personal preferences of you and your group.

    Discord Is Free for Users, Still Cheap for Pros

    A large company could use Discord as its major communication platform, assuming the business does a good job of setting up permissions, enhancing security, and increasing the limits imposed by the free version by paying just $99.99 for 12 months of Discord Nitro.

    You can cut the price in half by opting for Discord Nitro Classic ($49.99/year). Classic doesn’t include the server boosting feature, which lets you give special perks to a server; it’s useful if you’re a streamer, developer, or community leader curating a space for interacting with followers.

    Discord Nitro

    Both paid premium services (Nitro and Nitro Classic) cater mostly to gamers with features like higher-quality streaming, custom tagging, and more. Free or paid, Discord’s extensive documentation will walk you through everything you can do with Discord. Build bots that help make your server unique, develop applications, or take advantage of its open-source tools to create a Rich Presence for a game or app that you can sell directly to consumers through your own Discord server. By only taking a 10 percent cut, Discord offers developers an even better deal than Epic’s 12 percent or Steam’s 30 percent.

    Given Discord’s integration with countless gaming and media apps, paired with a customizable overlay, it’s no surprise that most Discord users have it running in the background while at their computer. In fact, Spotify’s desktop music player accounts for more than twice the next highest activity for people on Discord according to Statbot, making it clear that most people have Discord running in the background while they browse, create, play, or work. The tenth most popular application for Discord users is Visual Studio Code, showing how useful the application can be for professional collaboration.

    Note: This is not data from all Discord users, but it is a fairly large sample.

    Discord is primarily aimed at people who play, stream, discuss, develop, or sell games, but it is beginning to evolve beyond that into a community-focused platform for tech-savvy business operators. Whether you want to coordinate with coworkers, friends, or followers, it’s becoming a popular solution for everyone through its simple interface packed with powerful features.


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