Discord is going to sell games soon. The voice chat app has made itself a mainstay on most gaming PCs, and now the company plans to expand the feature set to include a store and a subscription library of games. Both selections will be curated in order to differentiate Discord’s games from the crowded marketplaces of Steam and the like.
That starts with an upgrade to Discord’s Nitro subscription, a $4.99 monthly or $49.99 annual service that gets you an array of chat perks, and will now include a selection games of games you can access as long as your subscription is active. The initial line-up will include an array of older titles from both triple-A and indie developers.
While Nitro will focus on legacy titles, the new store will offer more current games for direct purchase. That’s by design, as Discord chief marketing officer Eros Resmini tells Variety. “We generally focus on newer titles for the Retail store and ‘games you may have missed’ for the Nitro subscription.”
Resmini also explains why Discord’s just now getting into the sales business. “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.”
Notably, when TeamSpeak rebranded in preparation for TeamSpeak 5, the marketing for the update slyly called out Discord, suggesting the app’s free availability masked its willingness to sell user data. A Discord rep refuted those claims at the time, and the company is making a similar assertion here.
The new features will go live today, but only in beta, and only for a random selection of 50,000 Discord users in Canada. Those that get picked will find a new Discord Store tab in their clients, as well as access to the upgraded Discord Nitro.
One of the key points Discord emphasizes in its own announcement is curation. “For many people like us, you grew up during a time when there were a relatively small amount of games being released. We remember devouring Nintendo Power, PC Gamer, and other various gaming mags to get a sense of the titles coming out.” To that end, games will be selected by curation team made up of Discord employees.
When the new Nitro goes into beta, the initial selection will include Saints Row: The Third, Metro: Last Light Redux, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition, de Blob, Tormentor X Punisher, Dandara, Kathy Rain, GoNNER, Kingdom: New Lands, System Shock: Enhanced Edition, and Super Meat Boy.
The actual store will feature Dead Cells, Frostpunk, Omensight, Into the Breach, SpellForce 3, The Banner Saga 3, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Hollow Knight, Moonlighter, This is the Police 2, and Starbound. Of course, more titles will be added over time.
Whether it’s for Nitro or the Store the games are initially set to be Windows-only, though that’s set to change “eventually.” And this point shouldn’t be a surprise, but the games will feature DRM – whether that includes third-party DRM layers or a simple client check like with Steam remains to be seen.
We began to suspect the app might move in this direction when we saw the Discord games tab, giving the service an initial selection of Steam-like features. Though with the Steam Chat update, turnabout certainly seems like fair play. As much as some of us may want to grouse about installing yet another game client, further competition for Valve has to be a good thing.