It seems Discord isn't content to let Valve imitate many of its features in the new Steam Chat, because the gamer-focused communications platform is fighting back with the new Discord Store, which augments the Nitro subscription offering and establishes yet another storefront for video games. The new offering is still in beta--it's rolling out to 50,000 of the service's Canadian users today--but its ambitions are already clear.
This new storefront will take various forms. Discord emphasized the addition of "golden games" people might have missed to Nitro, the $5 monthly subscription that offers various perks in exchange for supporting the otherwise free platform's development, in a blog post about the new store. Companies are starting to bring the subscription model of movies, books and music to games; Discord is capitalizing on that shift.
Not that signing up for Nitro will be the only way to get new games via Discord. That's where the Discord Store comes in. The company said it wants to launch "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." That emphasis on curation would help the Discord Store differentiate itself from larger platforms like Steam.
Developers will get 70 percent of the revenues drawn from sales in the Discord Store, which is the same amount they'd receive from Valve or Apple if they sold their game via Steam or the App Store. Some devs will also receive direct support from Discord thanks to the new "First On Discord" initiative, which will help publish indie games in exchange for timed exclusivity, and the company said most will stay on its platform for 90 days.
All of that could become hard to manage--especially when you consider that many games are launched from something like Steam, Origin, Battle.net, or similar apps. Discord is betting that won't be a problem, though, because it's also introducing a Game Library that can automatically scan your system for games and open them and their corresponding launcher right from the existing Discord app, no hassle required.
Discord said in its announcement that it now has more than 150 million users. That's a lot of people who rely on the service to voice chat with friends playing the same game, socialize with people who have similar interests, and keep up with the gaming industry's latest gossip.
It makes sense, then, for the company to sell games that interest those people. Offering access to select titles could increase the number of people who sign up for Nitro, and selling individual games could also let Discord monetize the many people who can't or won't pay a monthly fee. Twitch did essentially the same thing in 2017 when it launched Twitch Games Commerce to make it easy to buy games you see on stream.
Discord is making a lot of changes with the introduction of the Discord Store. But the way it's approached them, from looking to help people experience games they missed and offering a curated selection of games to making it easy to launch anything on your system, highlights exactly why so many people like it. Discord knows what gamers want, and so far, it's managed to give it to them in a way other companies haven't.