Microsoft and Discord: A match made in Game Pass

GVL Photo Illustration / Eric Coulter

GVL Photo Illustration / Eric Coulter Love

Fabian Segura

Hot off the heels of acquiring game publisher Zenimax, Microsoft seems to have set their eyes on messaging app Discord. On March 22, Bloomberg announced that Discord was in talks with various companies such as Epic Games and Amazon before Microsoft came into the picture. 

For those who don’t know what Discord is, it is a voice and chat program like Skype, but originally aimed at gamers. In light of the pandemic, they have moved away from their video game branding into a more holistic virtual community center where people can create channels on whatever topic they want. 

They have doubled their monthly user base during the pandemic with people using the platform to connect with each other online, host clubs and events, and even as a platform for work or teaching. 

Discord’s main features are free for anyone, with more advanced features locked behind their subscription service called Discord Nitro. Perks include higher quality screen sharing, file transfer support and user profile customization. 

Despite having record growth and subsequently subscription numbers, Discord is still mainly funded through venture capital, raising $100 million last December from investors. 

This is where Microsoft comes into the picture. Microsoft has been investing heavily into the game industry recently, such as offering a Game Pass service granting users access to a large library of games and acquiring various game studios, integrating them into its service such as Bethesda. They’ve even partnered with EA for their games and have brought the service to their consoles, PC, and even phones through game streaming. 

Microsoft very much has the resources and reasoning to acquire Discord, as this will net them an even larger part of the game industry market share. They could very easily bundle Discord’s current Nitro subscription as yet another perk under Game Pass, providing.  

Whether or not current users would agree with this proposal is up in the air. From talking with friends and reading the comments from the report, it’s very much a mixed feelings. 

Microsoft bought out Skype in 2011 and has lost considerable market share to competing services to the point where products such as Zoom and Discord have largely replaced it. Microsoft also has a somewhat competing product in the form of Teams that comes bundled with its enterprise suite. 

I for one am still bitter about Microsoft’s abandonment of its live streaming service, Mixer. Another way of viewing it is yet more consolidation of the video game or tech industry. 

For now this report is all the information we have on Discord’s current situation. They could very easily go solo and create an IPO sale considering their current user base. 

In an interview from earlier this month with the Wall Street Journal, CEO Jason Citron stated they had no plans to go public at the time. Seeing as Microsoft finalized its Zenimax acquisition deal later that week, it’s highly likely that’s when they were approached by them. 

As high as Discord’s current user base is, it could very likely fall back down as we slowly return to in person events. For now, all we can do is wait and see how it all pans out.