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Discord (software)

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Logo for Discord, depicting an icon resembling a game controller inside a speech bubble
Screenshot depicting Discord's desktop client for Windows, viewing a freshly-created server on a freshly-created account.
Screenshot of a freshly-created Discord server
Developer(s)Discord Inc.
Initial releaseMay 13, 2015; 3 years ago (2015-05-13)
Stable release
08.08.2018 / August 8, 2018; 3 months ago (2018-08-08)
Preview release
0.0.203 / February 22, 2018; 8 months ago (2018-02-22)
Written inJavaScript, React, Elixir[1]
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Available in27 languages
List of languages
English (UK/US), French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, Polish, Czech, Romanian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Chinese (China/Taiwan), Croatian, Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Russian and Korean
TypeVoIP communications, instant messaging, Videoconferences[2], content delivery, and social media
LicenseProprietary freeware
Alexa rankPositive decrease 154 (August 2018)[3]

Discord is a proprietary freeware VoIP application and digital distribution[4] platform designed for video gaming communities, that specializes in text, image, video and audio communication between users in a chat channel. Discord runs on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and in web browsers. As of May 2018, there are 130 million unique users of the software.[5]


The concept of Discord came from CEO Jason Citron, who had founded OpenFeint, a social gaming platform for mobile games. He eventually sold OpenFeint to GREE in 2011 for US$104 million,[6] which he used to found Hammer & Chisel, a game development studio, in 2012.[7] Their original product was Fates Forever, released in 2014, which Citron anticipated to be the first MOBA game on mobile platforms, but it was not commercially successful due to low popularity. However, during the development process, Citron noted the difficulties that his team had had when trying to play other representative games like Final Fantasy XIV and League of Legends to work out gameplay concepts, specifically highlighting problems of current Voice over IP options that were available. Some VoIP options required players to share various IP addresses just to connect, while other services like Skype or TeamSpeak were resource-heavy and had known security problems.[citation needed] This led the developers towards developing a chat service that was much friendlier to use based on more modern technology.[8]

To develop Discord, Hammer & Chisel gained additional funding from YouWeb's 9+ incubator, who had also funded the startup of Hammer & Chisel, and from Benchmark capital and Tencent.[9][10]

Discord was publicly released in May 2015.[11] According to Citron, the only area that they pushed Discord into was for the Reddit communities, finding that many subreddit forums were replacing IRC servers with Discord ones.[12] Discord became popular through eSports and LAN tournament gamers and through other streamers.[13]

The company raised an additional US$20 million in funding for the software in January 2016.[14] American multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate WarnerMedia has invested in Discord.[15]


The Discord client is built on the Electron framework using web technologies,[16] which allows it to be multi-platform and operate on the web and as an installed application on personal computers. The software is supported by eleven data centers around the world to keep latency with clients low.[17] All versions of the client support the same feature set. Discord is specifically designed for use while gaming, as it includes features such as low-latency, free voice chat servers for users and a dedicated server infrastructure. Discord's developers also added video calling and screen sharing in 2017.[11] Support for calls between two or more users was added in an update on July 28, 2016. In December 2016, the company introduced its GameBridge API, which allows game developers to directly integrate with Discord within games.[18] The Git repository documentation for the Discord API is hosted on GitHub.

Every Discord user has a unique four-digit personal identification number discriminator, after a "#" after their username. This allows for multiple users to have the same username and for users to find friends easily.[19]

Discord provides partial support for rich text via the Markdown syntax.[20]

While the software itself comes at no cost, the developers investigated ways to monetize it, with potential options including paid customization options such as emoji or stickers.[9] In January 2017, the first paid subscription and features were released with 'Discord Nitro'. For a monthly subscription fee, users can get an animated avatar, use custom and/or animated[21] emojis across all servers, an increased maximum file size on file uploads (from 8 MB to 50 MB), the ability to choose their own personal identification number (from #0001 to #9999) and a unique profile badge.[22] The developers have claimed that while they will look for ways to monetize the software, it will never lose its core features.[23] Discord uses the Opus audio format, which is low-latency and designed to compress speech.[23]

Video calling and screen sharing functionality was added to Discord, first over a small test base in August 2017 and for all users in October 2017.[24] While these features mimic live streaming capabilities of platforms like, the company does not plan to compete with these services, believing that these features are best used by small groups.[25]

In October 2017, Discord offered server verification to game developers, publishers, and content creators, allowing them to display their server's "official" status with a "verified checkmark" after confirming their identity with the Discord team. Developers and publishers with verified servers can use data from Discord to create a "rich presence" within their games, allowing players to connect their game profile to their Discord profile. By the end of 2017, about 450 servers were verified, with about 20 servers using the "rich presence" features.[26][25]

Microsoft announced in April 2018 that it will provide Discord support for Xbox Live users, allowing them to link their Discord and Xbox Live accounts so that they can connect with their Xbox Live friends list through Discord.[27]

In August 2018, Discord launched a games storefront beta, allowing users to purchase a curated set of games through the service. This will include a "First on Discord" featured set of games whom their developers attest to Discord's help in getting them launched, giving these games 90 days of exclusivity on the Discord marketplace. Discord Nitro subscribers will also gain access to a rotating set of games as part of their subscription.[28][29]


By January 2016, Hammer & Chisel claimed that Discord had been used by 3 million people, with growth of 1 million per month, reaching 11 million users in July that year.[14][30] As of December 2016, the company reports it had 25 million users worldwide.[18] By the end of 2017, the service had drawn nearly 90 million users, with roughly 1.5 million new users each week.[31] With the service's third anniversary, Discord stated that it had 130 million registered users.[32] The company observed that while the bulk of their servers are used for gaming-related purposes, a small number have been created by users for non-gaming activities, like stock trading, fantasy football, and other shared interest groups.[25]

In May 2016, one year after the software's release, Tom Marks, writing for PC Gamer, described Discord as the best VoIP service available.[11] Lifehacker has praised Discord's interface, ease of use and platform compatibility.[33]

Disruptive use

Discord has had problems with hostile behaviour and abuse within chats, with some communities of chat servers being "raided" (the taking over of a server by a large number of users) by other communities. This includes flooding with controversial topics related to race, religion, politics, and pornography.[34] Discord has stated that they have plans to implement changes that would "rid the platform of the issue".[35]

To better protect its users and its services since these events, Discord has implemented a trust and safety team that is on call around the clock to monitor the servers and respond to reports. This includes dealing with user harassment, servers that violate Discord's terms of service, and to protect servers from "raiding" and spamming by malicious users or bots. While they do not directly monitor messages, the trust and safety team can determine malicious activity from service use patterns and take appropriate steps, including more detailed investigation, to deal with the matter. The service plans to expand this team as they continue to gain new users.[31][25]

Controversial content

Discord gained popularity with the alt-right due to the client's features supporting anonymity and privacy. Analyst Keegan Hankes from the Southern Poverty Law Center said "It's pretty unavoidable to be a leader in this [alt-right] movement without participating in Discord".[36][37] In early 2017, CEO Jason Citron stated Discord was aware of these groups and their servers.[38] Citron stated that servers found to be engaged in illegal activities or violations of the terms of service would be shut down, but would not disclose any examples.[39]

Following the violent events that occurred during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, it was found that Discord had been used to plan and organize the white nationalist rally. This included participation by Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin, high-level figures in the movement.[36] Discord responded by closing servers that supported the alt-right and far-right, and banning users who had participated.[40] Discord's executives condemned "white supremacy" and "neo-Nazism", and said that these groups "are not welcome on Discord".[36] Discord has worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center to identify hateful groups using Discord and ban those groups from the service.[41] Since then, several neo-Nazi and alt-right servers have been shut down by Discord, including those operated by neo-Nazi terrorist group Atomwaffen Division, Nordic Resistance Movement, Iron March, and European Domas.[42]

In January 2018, The Daily Beast reported that it found that there were several Discord servers that were specifically engaged in distributing revenge porn and facilitating real-world harassment of the victims of these images and videos. Such actions are against Discord's terms of service and Discord has shut down servers and banned users identified from these servers, but the ease of creating new accounts and servers allows such servers to continue to proliferate.[43]

See also


  1. ^ Vishnevskiy, Stanislav (June 6, 2017). "How Discord Scaled Elixir to 5,000,000 Concurrent Users". DiscordApp. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  2. ^ DiscordApp (October 5, 2017). "05.10.2017 - Changelog". DiscordApp. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  3. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "Discord Store Global Beta Is Live! – Discord Blog". Discord Blog. 2018-10-16. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  5. ^ Grunin, Lori (May 15, 2018). "Discord celebrates its birthday with 130 million users". CNET. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  6. ^ Rao, Leena (April 21, 2011). "Japanese Company GREE Buys Mobile Social Gaming Platform OpenFeint For $104 Million In Cash". TechCrunch. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  7. ^ Takahashi, Dean (February 10, 2015). "Fates Forever mobile game maker Hammer & Chisel raises funding from Benchmark and Tencent". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  8. ^ Lazarides, Tasos (September 14, 2015). "Ex-'Fates Forever' Developers Making 'Discord', a Voice Comm App For Multiplayer Mobile Games". TouchArcade. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Takahashi, Dean (September 10, 2015). "Hammer & Chisel pivots to voice comm app for multiplayer mobile games". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  10. ^ Takahashi, Dean (February 10, 2015). "Fates Forever mobile game maker Hammer & Chisel raises funding from Benchmark and Tencent". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Marks, Tom (May 14, 2016). "One year after its launch, Discord is the best VoIP service available". PC Gamer. Future plc. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  12. ^ Winkie, Luke (June 21, 2017). "Inside Discord, the Chat App That's Changing How Gamers Communicate". Glixel. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  13. ^ Brightman, James (January 26, 2016). "Jason Citron lands $20m for Discord". Gamer Network Ltd. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Walker, Alex (January 27, 2016). "The Latest App For Third-Party Voice Chat Just Raised Almost US$20 Million". Kotaku Australia. UCI. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  15. ^ "Discord Jobs and Company Information". Discord. Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  16. ^ "Apps Built on Electron". February 3, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  17. ^ Takahashi, Dean (May 21, 2017). "Discord's voice communications app for gamers quadruples to 45 million users". Venture Beat. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Kerr, Chris (December 8, 2016). "Booming game chat app Discord intros in-game text, voice integration". GAMASUTRA. UBM plc. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  19. ^ "Friends List 101".
  20. ^ "Markdown Text 101 (Chat Formatting: Bold, Italic, Underline)".
  21. ^ "21.12.2017 — Change Log – Discord Blog". Discord Blog. 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  22. ^ Nelly (January 23, 2017). "Boost Your Account and Support Us With Discord Nitro". Discord Blog. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  23. ^ a b "See How Discord Stacks Up". Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  24. ^ Shah, Saqib (October 6, 2017). "Discord makes video chat and screen sharing available to all". Engadget. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  25. ^ a b c d Crecente, Brian (December 7, 2017). "Discord: 87M Users, Nintendo Switch Wishes and Dealing With Alt-Right". Glixel. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  26. ^ Alexander, Julia (October 12, 2017). "Discord launches Verified servers for game developers, publishers". Polygon. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  27. ^ Barnett, Brian (April 24, 2018). "Microsoft Bringing Discord Support To Xbox Live". IGN. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  28. ^ Kerr, Chris (August 9, 2018). "Discord turns retailer with beta launch of game storefront". Gamasutra. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  29. ^ "Discord Nitro is Evolving – Discord Blog". Discord Blog. 2018-10-11. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  30. ^ Francis, Bryant (July 8, 2016). "Game chat app Discord crosses 11 million registered users". GAMASUTRA. UBM plc. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  31. ^ a b Alexander, Julia (December 7, 2017). "As Discord nears 100 million users, safety concerns are heard". Polygon. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  32. ^ Grubb, Jeff (May 15, 2018). "Discord gets big update as it turns 3 years old". Venture Beat. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  33. ^ Ravenscraft, Eric (August 17, 2016). "Discord Is The Voice Chat App I've Always Wanted". Lifehacker. UCI. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  34. ^ Menegus, Bryan (February 6, 2017). "How a Video Game Chat Client Became the Web's New Cesspool of Abuse". Gizmodo. Gawker Media. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  35. ^ Alexander, Julia (July 27, 2017). "Discord has a major raiding issue, but the developers are trying to fix it". Polygon. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  36. ^ a b c Roose, Kevin (August 15, 2017). "This Was the Alt-Right's Favorite Chat App. Then Came Charlottesville". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  37. ^ Barbaro, Michael (August 18, 2017). "'The Daily': The Alt-Right and the Internet". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  38. ^ Bernstein, Joseph (January 23, 2017). "A Thriving Chat Startup Braces For The Alt-Right". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on January 25, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  39. ^ Menegus, Bryan (February 6, 2017). "How a Video Game Chat Client Became the Web's New Cesspool of Abuse". Gizmodo. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  40. ^ Newton, Casey (August 14, 2017). "Discord bans servers that promote Nazi ideology". The Verge. Archived from the original on August 18, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  41. ^ Alexander, Julia (February 28, 2018). "Discord is purging alt-right, white nationalist and hateful servers". Polygon. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  42. ^ Liao, Shannon (February 28, 2018). "Discord shuts down more neo-Nazi, alt-right servers". The Verge. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  43. ^ Cox, Joesph (January 17, 2018). "The Gaming Site Discord Is the New Front of Revenge Porn". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 17, 2018.

External links