So far, 2020 has been rough. With one of the highlights of the year being the quarantining of the majority of the planet, there’s been an influx of people with lots of time to kill who may be looking for a way to stay connected in a world where you can’t leave your house. While we’ve seen the rise of Zoom and other streaming services, there’s also been a dramatic increase in users of Discord, a streaming and voice chat based service centered around the gaming community. Whether it’s a text channel to store your memes, a voice chat for games of Among Us, or a small scale streaming platform to play games with family across the country, Discord has been a huge boon to many people during this pandemic.
Discord has seen a huge increase in user base during the lockdown even beyond their initial target audience of streamers and gamers. Multiple statistics show an increase in monthly active users: CNN reports a 47% increase since February. Additionally, there’s been a general increase of Discord’s use in an educational capacity, as 30% of users don’t use it for gaming whatsoever. With its various uses of channels and private chats, it’s more reminiscent of Slack for gamers, so while the program itself is not always user friendly, as Discord rises in popularity, people who have experience with Slack may find the transition a little easier.
This growth isn’t a coincidence: Discord has taken several proactive steps towards drawing in new users, especially during lockdown. In March, they expanded their streaming capabilities and limits so that users could invite up to 50 people to view a simultaneous stream, as opposed to the prior 10 person limit. While it’s nowhere near Twitch’s thousands of viewers, Discord boasts a much more streamlined process, ideal for playing and watching with close friends and family in a much more organic way, with multiple screens available at once without the hassle of templates. Just a click of a single button, and boom! Streaming.
Discord’s growth during quarantine is also monetarily motivated. Though the primary platform remains free to use and anonymous for users, their main source of income is through the purchase of subscription services for Discord Nitro. They seem to be doing just fine at putting money back into the program to improve performances across the platform.
So consider this gaming platform for your next group project or school study group; with its many channels and voices, organization can become something to look forward to. Just make sure to set aside a channel for memes. Trust me: you can’t stop them, so it’s better to just give them a space to belong.