Discord, Slack for gamers, tops 250 million registered users
The chat app built for gamers continues to grow, despite controversies.
Ian SherrFormer Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
You may never have heard of Discord, but you might soon.
The chat app built initially for gamers has been steadily expanding outside that world as it's increasingly used by YouTube personalities, podcasters, hackers and more. Overall, the company says it counts more than 250 million registered users, or basically the same number of people who've signed up to play the cultural phenom Fortnight. More than 56 million people log in each month on the app, which marks its fourth anniversary Monday.
"As Discord has grown, it's gone mainstream," the company said in a statement.
While it's true the 165-person company has become popular outside of gaming, its most popular "servers" (or, chat rooms) are typically gaming related. The top server is for Fortnite, followed by a similar battle game Spellbreak, then
competitor PUBG. Microsoft's world building game Minecraft, Supercell's strategy game Clash Royale and Ubisoft's Rainbow 6 military survival game are also popular.
Its good-natured gaming roots and slick design have made it popular among gamers looking to easily chat with friends or organize a gaming session from across town or on another side of the world. It's often called "Slack for gamers," a reference to the similarly designed business software that's expected to hold an initial public offering this year.
But Discord has a darker side. White supremacists and hackers have gravitated to the platform, in part because of its ease of use and insufficient bureaucracy to track and punish them. That's different from companies like Facebook and Twitter, which have employee bases many times larger than Discord's and have taken a harder line, even using computer programs to identify and then excise bad actors from their communities.
Still, San Francisco-based Discord is pushing forward. It's launched a game sales service to compete with the likes of Fortnite maker Epic and Valve's popular "Steam" store. The company declined to say how many games it's sold through that effort.