With over 150 million users, popular gaming chat app Discord has its sights set on Steam with the Discord Store. Currently in beta for around 50,000 of its Canadian players, it will be expanding to more markets over time. According to the company, these players will see an upgraded version of the premium Discord experience known as Discord Nitro which would now include select games in addition to existing subscription perks. The new Discord Store tab will also be a part of this update, allowing them to purchase individual games.
Considering the abundance of PC games and just as many storefronts, Discord aims to differentiate itself with a highly selective inventory and an emphasis on curation.
"You ever been in one of those smaller boutique book shops with recommendations from employees written on little note cards? We love that hands-on personal approach to sharing great content with others. We think this kind of cozy neighborhood book shop vibe would be great for games. It reduces clutter and makes it easier to find what you want.
Alongside the upgraded Nitro, we’ll be launching a curated game store experience similar to one of those cozy neighborhood book shops with recommendations about the hottest and newest games from us to you," reads a post on the company's site.
That said, the reason for this move, has been to ensure another source of revenue without resorting to ads.
"We’ve actually been mulling the idea for a long time," Discord Chief Marketing Officer Eros Resmini, told Variety. "We wanted to build an amazing platform that people wanted to use every day and we wanted to grow that platform before focusing too much on monetisation. We now have 150 million users, so timing felt right. We knew we didn’t want to sell ads or user data, so we had two options left: cosmetics or content. Nitro was our attempt at cosmetics, now we’re adding games to that subscription and building a retail store too."
Resmini said games will be selected by a curation team powered by the more than 100 people who work at Discord.
Furthermore, there will be a range of games branded as 'First on Discord'. These would be indie games that the firm "helped bring to life" and will be exclusive for usually 90 days before being available on other platforms. Here's the list of games that would be free to Discord Nitro subscribers as well as a list of games available on the Discord Store at launch.
It will be interesting to see how Discord's endeavours work out. Bigger PC game publishers like EA, Activision, and Bethesda have already moved towards making their IP exclusive to their platforms what with the likes of FIFA 19, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Fallout 76 skipping Steam. Unless its able to show value to mid-tier and indie PC developers, it may just be another store in a sea full of them.
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