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In 2015, Discord‘s founders launched an app that was initially built for gamers. However, the growth of online communities –and the explosion of the pandemic– led Discord to become much more than its creators had planned. Now, Internet users use Discord to connect with like-minded people in online communities, socialize, and work.
Since its foundation, the platform has grown from a small community of gamers into one of the most popular communication tools ever created. In July 2021, the platform reached around 19 million weekly active users (WAU). And 150 million monthly active users (MAU), rising from 56 million MAUs in 2019. However, something that many people on the Internet are asking is: How does Discord make money?
How Does Discord Work?
Since its origins, Discord works with an ad-free freemium model. This business model allows users to access the core features for free but charges for additional features and content. This includes the ability to create servers with up to 300 members and voice chat with members. It also allows users to share media files like images and videos with their friends, and much more.
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So while Discord doesn’t work with ads like most online social platforms, the app makes money by offering a number of subscription tiers. These range from $4.99 per month up to $24.99 per month depending on what you need out of the platform.
Just in 2020, the platform made around $130 million in revenue, nearly triple what it made in 2019. “We have intentionally pursued a business model that doesn’t rely on monetizing our users’ data,” said Discord’s CTO and co-founder, Stanislav Vishnevskiy.
Nitro Subscription Service
The company also earns money through its Nitro subscription service. It costs $5 per month or $50 per year. And comes with several perks such as animated avatars, animated emojis, gifs, and access to exclusive channels with special roles. In addition, it offers abilities like being able to mute everyone else on the server at once. Or having a custom welcome message when someone joins the server for the first time.
Another platform that has a similar business model is Slack, which generates revenue by selling its software as a service (SaaS) product. Slack also offers a premium option for businesses and communities looking for more features. These include video conferencing and direct messages with higher limits on file size and attachment counts.
Other Ways Discord Makes Money
Apart from its subscription service, Discord also makes money through other means. As the platform is becoming a popular distribution channel for games, developers are paying Discord to host their games on the platform. Discord takes a cut of these distribution fees, which helps offset the cost of running its servers and maintaining the app itself.
The platform also offers virtual ticketing services that allow event organizers to sell tickets directly through Discord. For example, users can buy tickets for a concert via Discord using Bitcoin or Ethereum without having to leave the app at all.
Why Did Discord Become So Popular?
The rise in popularity of Discord was largely due to the COVID pandemic when many people began to move from real life to digital platforms and online hangout spaces. This happened in almost all areas: from leisure and social to work-life.
While Discord’s a platform that was initially designed for gamers who wanted to play collaboratively and connect with fellow colleagues, many work teams began to use it too in order to communicate while working remotely.
Also, niche communities chose Discord as the space for members to connect with each other and network with like-minded people: from entrepreneurs and founders to writers, artists, and crypto enthusiasts.
According to CB Insights, in 2021 almost 80% of the people present on Discord used the platform for non-gaming purposes, 30% more than in 2019.
For example, Binance –the well-known crypto exchange– users gather in the Binance Community, where they are both online and in-person to learn and discuss crypto. This community is present both in Discord and Telegram.
There’s also Bootstrapped Family, a community for entrepreneurs and founders who’re bootstrapping their businesses, no matter the stage of growth. This online group is present in Discord and was founded by French entrepreneur Guillaume Moubeche.
How Discord Monetizes Chat Rooms at a Global Level
Apart from Nitro, Discord has another option for founders to have more features available on the platform. Server boosts unlock extra features for servers, and the features add up with a higher number of boosts. This is a good way of monetizing chat rooms, as each boost starts at $4.99 per month.
Also, what’s interesting about boosts is that anyone can purchase boosts for a server. If there are members that love the community, they can boost it and get perks for everyone.
Is It Possible to Replicate the Discord Business Model?
While there are several chat platforms that compete with Discord –such as Slack, Telegram, and Steamchat–, Discord still remains the most popular among Internet users who choose to create communities. Mainly, the gamer community. It’s that organic engagement that makes Discord a leading platform in the industry.
So while there are some companies that could –and surely do– replicate Discord’s freemium business model, this would not guarantee the same results as this platform has.