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Culture

Discord, Slack for gamers, tops 250 million registered users

The chat app built for gamers continues to grow, despite controversies.

Call of Duty World League - London 2019

Many gamers these days like to play online with friends. Discord helps them do that.

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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.

direct-message-screen

Discord is praised for its sleek design, similar to business chat software Slack.

Discord

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 Fortnite 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.