When Discord was first released back in 2015, it was built as a place for gamers to talk about gaming, build communities around gaming, and, well, game. However, these days, it seems as if Discord has become far more popular among the general public. The app now has over 140 million active monthly users and is available on platforms like Xbox and PlayStation. But if you’ve ever used Discord, whether for gaming or simply for chatting with friends, you may have noticed that you don’t have to pay a dime to use it, which begs the question: how does Discord make money?
The core of Discord’s app is totally free, users can create an account, log on, and chat either in groups called “servers” or individually, all for free. Discord also offers a free voice chat feature and the ability to add bots created by independent developers that enhance the app’s functionality. With Discord offering such a wide range of functions for free, how could they possibly be making money?
Well, Discord started out with a similar business model to a lot of other apps, the freemium model, which involves offering the app for free at first and then charging users to access premium features. However, in recent years, Discord has diversified its revenue stream in hopes of more effectively padding their bottom line.
Discord Nitro is the app’s paid subscription service that costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. Paid users get access to a vast library of games and a number of premium features such as a personalized Discord tag, custom emojis, a special Nitro badge on your profile, animated avatars, a higher upload limit and higher quality screen sharing.
While the premium features that Discord Nitro offers don’t markedly increase the functionality of the platform, Discord has garnered a loyal user base that has proven they’re willing to support the app monetarily.
Discord Game Store
As of August 2018, Discord launched its own game store on the app that allows developers to sell their own games to players. While Discord allows developers to keep 90% of the revenue from game sales, the company has brought in a ton of money from just creating the marketplace.
Merchandise and In-App Features
Apart from its premium functions and game sales, Discord also offers users the ability to buy in-app cosmetic items like sound packs, stickers, and custom emojis. These features won’t really do anything for the app’s functionality, but they’re a fun and entertaining way to spice up your servers.
If you’re a real Discord fanatic, you can also purchase real-life Discord merchandise such as t-shirts, hoodies, hats, socks, and more. These sales constitute a small portion of Discord’s revenue, and the company tends to think of these items more as homegrown marketing rather than a revenue source.
Discord has raised a significant amount of money, particularly from venture capital, to support the continued improvement of the platform in the hopes that its user count will continue to grow and that it will be able to turn that usership into revenue down the line. The company is currently not publicly traded, but there have been murmurs that an IPO may be in the company’s near future.